eBay, Google, CDT, NetCoalition and others have filed an amicus brief in Kirtsaeng v. Wiley, an upcoming case before the Supreme Court, addressing the application of the First Sale Doctrine to goods manufactured outside the United States. As discussed earlier, the case has important implications for Americans in an age of global online commerce and vast second-hand markets for goods:
Both the District and Second Circuit courts held that any product manufactured abroad is not subject to the first-sale doctrine. For instance, that iPad you sold. You noticed this statement: “Designed by Apple in California. Assembled in China.” Same for the iPods you’ve owned, the iPhones, and the MacBooks. Because those products were manufactured abroad, according to the Second Circuit, the first-sale doctrine doesn’t apply to them. You need the permission of every copyright holder to sell the iPad.
That means, you need to ask Apple for permission, and probably Google, whose Maps software comes bundled with the iPad, and includes Google copyrights. Under this rule, when you sell some of your stuff on eBay or Craigslist (a couch, some books, electronics, posters, an old television, a toaster), you have to look up whether it has a copyrighted logo anywhere and find out whether the product was manufactured in the U.S. or abroad.
You can read the brief here.
If you’re interested in learning more about the issue, visit Citizens for Ownership Rights, a petition site put together by a coalition of groups including EFF, Fight for the Future, and Public Knowledge.