So there’s this thing.
I found this article about a case where the court ruled against the Entertainment industry in an interesting copyright battle.
There’s this law, called the first-sale doctrine. Well, maybe it’s not a law. It’s a….thing. Basically, is says that if you purchased a copyrighted book legally, you are allowed to sell it again to someone else without asking people for permission. So, in the spirit of the industry, when someone actually tried to do this, the industry freaked out a bit.
A man from Thailand decided to fight the $600,000 he was told he had to pay for getting his family and friends to send him cheaper, foreign-printed copies of textbooks, and then selling them in America. In this case, the court ruled in favour of him.
They talk about why this is good and bad in the article. If they had ruled for the publisher, they argue that this would have crazy repercussions on many industries. Museums, for example, may have to then start asking people if they can display their work, and often the people they ask are just those who hold the copyright–not the people who actually created the work themselves. Foreign cars might not be able to be sold in various places without asking everyone who holds patents and copyrights on all the parts in it. How silly.
There is of course the usual whining about not being able to find a market overseas now. They’ll get over it.
The point of this interesting article, I believe, is that the courts are finally realizing that intellectual property laws have the potential to restrict culture and whatnot. By seeing how, here, setting this kind of precedent could lead to crazy restrictive things, perhaps the courts are becoming aware of the threat some copyright poses to culture and its distribution. An important point to notice in this first-sale doctrine is how it specifies that the copyrighted work needs to be purchased legally. Then the owner can go ahead and sell it again. This is promoting the sharing of knowledge, and by getting upset because profits are not going back to the industry is a sign of exactly what is wrong with today’s copyright laws. That is, companies and such are so focused on making money that they forget the true meaning of
Christmas copyright: to protect and encourage the expansion of culture.
What I’m hoping is that this article points to the courts who know the difference between true copyright infringement and the industry just whining about money.
I suppose you could argue that the line between these two is very thin and ambiguous. This is true, but my point is the courts will hopefully understand when to be restrictive of copyright and when to let culture sharing be free.