Geographic Limitations on the First Sale Doctrine

Rights as per First Sale Doctrine
Under the First Sale Doctrine, a consumer does not attain the copyright connected with the work. However, the consumer does acquire a range of possession rights regarding the solitary copy of the acquired work. This grant of authority of utilizing and manage to the buyer is an important feature of copyright law. The First Sale Doctrine regulated only to a precise copy, and there are no rights arranged to the authentic work. The owner of the product (buyer), which is copyrighted, cannot reproduce; perform changes without the authorization and consent of the primary owner.

The current owner only has the power to dispose of the product by selling, lending, or giving away the purchased product. Let’s understand this with an example. An individual purchases books which are copyrighted. The First Sale Doctrine does not permit that individual to make changes to the book, print them with the changes, put them for sale in the market, and sell them separately. The First Sale Doctrine applies only to the owner and not to the person who purchased the product but does not have ownership rights. The person who purchased the product only has distribution rights.

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Let’s understand this with an example. Individual purchases lawfully made a copy of books that are copyrighted. As the owner of the books, he/she can rent those books through a lending library. Any individual can come and take the books on rent. They do have the right to re-rent the books again to anyone else. However, only the owner of the library has the rights to rent the books.

Exceptions to the First Sale Doctrine

There are few exceptions to First Sale Doctrine. There has been a great development in the industries of computers and music. The computer programs and sound recordings are prohibited from renting. First Sale Doctrine prohibits an owner who purchased the phone record representing a sound recording or musical work to rent commercial purposes further. Due to this prohibition, the music stores cannot rent records and protects home copying. The prohibition of sound recordings from being rented further is limited to musical works only; the prohibition is not extended to audiobooks sound recordings, sound recordings containing commentaries, sound recordings containing dialog soundtrack. The educational institutions and libraries may rent the musical sound recordings as they are exempted from the restrictions—First Sale Doctrine prohibits computer software renting for commercial purposes. As per First Sale Doctrine, it is not permissible to damage or destroy artistic work or photography which matches the necessities of the Visual Artists Rights Act. The major intention here is that the original artwork should not be allowed to be destroyed under the provision of copyright.

Geographic Limitations on the First Sale Doctrine
A geographic limitation does not apply to the first sale doctrine. Let’s understand this with an example. A student from Japan came to America for his/her higher studies. He/she was involved in a commerce arrangement along with family back in Japan. The commerce arrangement was business-oriented. The business arrangement involved the student purchasing books at a lower cost in Japan and sending the books to the student in America. The student would resell the books to the other U.S. students and in the U.S. market at a higher price. The student expanded his/her business in the U.S. by reselling the books. He earned a large sum of profit in this transaction. The publishers in the U.S. started to know about the business transaction of the student and sued him/her.

They argued that the doctrine of the first sale did not apply to grey market goods. The grey market goods here were the books that were imported into the U.S. The Supreme Court disagreed with the case. The judgment was passed for the student. The copies of the books were made lawfully under the copyright holder, and there is no requirement that the books are to be manufactured in the U.S. The first sale doctrine applied to the student, and he could do anything with his copy of books. He could resell them, lend them or give them away as he wishes, though he does not own the copyright of the books.

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