Monday, October 8, 2012

Courts may soon decide if you really own what you buy

Governments through the time of our nation's history have distorted and broken the bond of right to personal property through taxation, regulation, and sometimes, outright theft (BATF and Eminent Domain).  But a soon to be court case could completely eradicate American's right to control over the things they buy in the economy and at retail stores.

Under the doctrine, which the Supreme Court has recognized since 1908, you can resell your stuff without worry because the copyright holder only had control over the first sale.

That’s being challenged now for products that are made abroad, and if the Supreme Court upholds an appellate court ruling, it would mean that the copyright holders of anything you own that has been made in China, Japan or Europe, for example, would have to give you permission to sell it.

“It means that it’s harder for consumers to buy used products and harder for them to sell them,” said Jonathan Band, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center, who filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of the American Library Association, the Association of College and Research Libraries and the Association for Research Libraries. “This has huge consumer impact on all consumer groups.” - Market Watch

In agriculture, companies like Monsanto have already been successful in suing farmers who just happen to have crops grown on their land from seeds that inadvertantly blew in from another farm.  Absolute control over rights to how we grow food is just one phase under attack in America, and now the courts will have to decide if a companies product is simply a lease to consumers, and not a full purchase.

If the court chooses to side with corporations on this, then the ramifications to the U.S. economy could be devastating, as Americans may choose not to buy anything outside basic necessities and ignore products where corporations retain ownership over ones use and right to distribute as they see fit.


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