Just because a product is manufactured abroad, is the copyright owner entitled to control the downstream secondary sale of that product?

This is a question that the Supreme Court is faced with determining.  If the Supreme Court justices conclude that the copyright owners are entitled to control the secondary sales of products manufactured abroad, much will change for Americans.

For example, if I buy a foreign-made Toyota car, which carries with it copyrighted software, I wouldn’t be able to resell the car on lets say eBay without getting permission from the copyright holder.

Who wants to restrict these secondary sales?

Large copyright holders want the Supreme Court to “limit Americans' right to resell legally purchased products manufactured outside the United States.”  They claim that “used product sales compete with new sales.”

Many are against limiting secondary sales

Companies such as eBay, Google, TechAmerica, and NetChoice are against this new limitation.  They argue “if the law is expanded, far more copyrighted items would be made offshore.”  This would be disadvantageous to the U.S. economy.

Consequence of limiting rights to resell:

  • An individual who purchases a foreign made product, which is copyrighted, would not be able to resell the product without the permission of the copyright holder.
  • Limiting the right to resell products made abroad may threaten e-commerce.
  • Limiting the right to resell products would be detrimental to the U.S. economy.

If this topic interests you, you may follow this case.  The docket number is 11-697.

What are your thoughts on the matter?  Is it fair to limit your right to resell legally purchased products manufactured outside the United States?

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