Copyright not only protects your intellectual property from imitators and copycats, but it also protects your ability to sell your IP. For instance, a person can’t print off their own Pretty Jeff minicomic and sell it at conventions – that is illegal. However, the First-Sale Doctrine states that the right to sell IP only applies to the first sale, and that subsequent sales can be made by anyone. So someone could buy a Pretty Jeff minicomic from me and then resell it to someone else – that is perfectly legal. I received payment for my minicomic and I’ll be able to afford lunch, and the buyer is happy because he made a few bucks off a minicomic. Everyone wins. So it makes perfect sense that the MPAA and the RIAA would want to ruin this law in favor of an insane doctrine that only benefits them.
The Supreme Court will soon be hearing a case that will determine whether or not to overturn the First-Sale Doctrine and prohibit consumers from reselling their products. This includes basically everything – from iPods and computers to houses and wristwatches. Anything that has a company logo on it would have new restrictions on resale if the Court overturns the First-Sale Doctrine. The consumer would have to seek permission from the company to resell their product. Since my phone has logos for Google, Virgin Mobile, and LG Electronics on it, I would have to contact all three if I wanted to sell my phone and use the money to buy an iPhone.
As insane as this sounds, the courts could rule in favor of the manufacturers and copyright holders. Lower courts have ruled that the First-Sale Doctrine doesn’t apply to products made outside of the US (keep in mind that copyright law extends internationally). The lower courts figured that if things got out of hand, Congress could sort it out later. You know, the same Congress that seriously considered passing SOPA and PIPA.
I don’t think I need to say anything else – it’s pretty clear that this is a bad idea. So instead, here are some links. Here’s an article about the case, where I got a lot of my information from. Here’s the big petition site to tell lawmakers that this is a bad idea. And since we’ve been talking about buying my comics, here’s a link to my store. Y’know, just in case you want to help feed this copyright holder. And don’t worry, even if things go south, you’ll always have my permission to resell my comics.