Friday, April 11, 2008

EFF is Awesome ...

One more before I go to sleep.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is a great a organization. When I am a rich lawyer I will donate a lot of money to them. This is a group of lawyers who oppose major companies (sometimes even the government) in cases dealing with personal rights and technology.

In the past the have fought against printer manufacturers abusing the DMCA to force consumers to purchase ink cartridges only from them, and sued various corporations for helping the NSA conduct warrantless surveillance.

Most recently they are trying to preserve right of "First Sale." This right is what allows us to do whatever we want with the things we purchase, regardless of the copyright protecting the item. For example, I can burn a copyrighted book, or sell it to somebody else, or just throw it away as long as I buy it first. The copyright owner is only able to limit the "first sale" of the work.

In this case, a record company is trying to stop sales of "Promotional Only" CD's on eBay. The record company argues that CDs that are mailed for promotional purposes are only licensed to the recipients, and therefore copyright holders never convey ownership rights of the CD to the recipient. This means that record companies can limit any subsequent sales, the first sale doctrine does not apply. On the other hand, the EFF argues that the record companies send these CDs as unsolicited gifts via mail (there is a lot of case law about this), and therefore the recipient is the legal owner of the CD and able to sell it if he wants. The EFF further describes a slippery slope where books and CDs, books and DVDs would not be subject to fair use after a copyright owner slaps a sticker with a user license.

As ArsTechnica points out the court filing is a good read if only for the fact that it starts with a Harry Potter quote.

EFF via ArsTechnica