You've Been Owned: Stand Up For Digital First Sale

You bought it. You own it. You should be able to do what you want with it.

Right now, the Supreme Court is considering a case called Kirtsaeng v. Wiley, and their final decision could help shape the future of "first sale," the legal doctrine that underpins our rights to sell, lend, or give away the things we buy, even if those things contain copyrighted elements. For example, when we buy a CD at a store, "first sale" gives us the right to sell that CD at a garage sale two years later. 

When it comes to the digital world, first sale is already under attack. Copyright holders are trying to undermine our first sale rights by forcing users to license items they would rather buy. The copyright industry wants you to "license" all your music, your movies, your games — and lose your rights to sell them or modify them as you see fit. These "end user license agreements" back up the same sort of short-sighted policies which prevent us from lending ebooks to friends or using text-to-speech to read ebooks aloud.

The Kirtsaeng case specifically deals with textbooks, but the Court's decision is likely to affect a range of markets and consumers. If the court goes the wrong way on this, it could threaten your ability to buy and sell all kinds of products that might contain copyrighted material -- and the businesses that help you do it, like eBay or Craigslist or even a local flea market.

Regardless of the decision of the Supreme Court, Congress needs to know how we feel about this issue. EFF is joining friends at Demand Progress and Free Software Foundation in giving you tools to ask your Congressmembers to defend your rights in your digital goods. Please tell Congress to defend your rights to do what you want with the digital goods you paid for.

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