Have you ever sold something at a garage sale? How about an old used car or truck?
Shockingly, your rights to sell your own property could be in jeopardy, and it all hinges on how the Supreme Court rules later this fall.
The upcoming court case, Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, will decide whether or not you to have the right to buy and then sell things like electronics, used CDs and DVDs, books, artwork, furniture and a variety of other products without getting permission from the original copyright holder. As crazy as that sounds, it would literally mean having to get permission from a company like Apple to sell your old Iphone.
The case originally started after a college student discovered that buying his textbooks from Thailand was cheaper than buying them here is the States. He then bought a large number of textbooks and began reselling them to students on ebay. The publisher of the textbooks, who admits that they sell these books at a deep discount overseas, then decided to sue the student for copyright infringement.
Under current copyright laws, the manufacturer of a product only had control of the first sale. But depending on how the court rules, the copyright holder may now be able to deny your right to sell your own used products, or require you to pay a fee when you sell that product. The coming Supreme Court decision could affect any products that are manufactured, printed or designed overseas – which is about 99% of the crap that’s now sold in this country – and could significantly impact websites like ebay, Amazon and Craigslist.
Should the Supreme Court side in favor of the publisher, it would have wide reaching implications that would affect the sale of pretty much any used products.