Friday, October 19, 2012

Ebay Auctions (Part 3 of 3)

Last time I began a story where a college student from Thailand was studying over in the United States.  He discovered that the textbooks he needed were cheaper in Thailand than in the US, so he had relatives obtain his textbooks.  Being of the entrepreneur mind, he quickly realized that he could purchase a lot of these textbooks in Thailand, ship them to the US, and then make a hearty profit reselling them on Ebay, to the tune of over $1,000,000.

Here is where the story gets interesting.   The publisher, John Wiley and Sons, found out about this little venture and sued the student, Supap Kirtsarng.  As is to be expected, this court case dragged on and on.  A US Appellate Court has ruled in favor of publisher.

Look man, we are bot owners.  What does any of this legal garbage have to do with us?

I’m getting to that.  See, the Appellate Court’s ruling has several implications when it concerns things like copyright and reselling stuff you previously purchased.

Back in 1908, the Supreme Court ruled that once the initial sale was made, the buyer was free to resell without getting permission from the copyright holder.  That book you purchased a year ago, you could sell on Ebay, Amazon, a garage sale, or simply give it to charity.  This is being challenged now for products that are being made outside the United States and if this Appellate Court’s ruling stands, copyright holders in China, Japan, Spain, Africa, etc would have to give you permission to sell it.

Think about that for a minute.  To sell that book, you’d need the publisher’s permission, in writing.  This is not limited to physical objects like that antique table your grandmother has either.  It would apply to anything made outside the United States.  Quick, can you name anything of substance that is exclusively made inside the United States?

Ebay appears to have taken the cautious approach of implementing this when it concerns things like the Magic Online cards which we all profit from.

So what is the future?  The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear this case on Oct 29th, and probably will make its ruling in June 2013.  This is a case which goes under the radar until the ruling comes and all of a sudden, well, you get the point.  I for one will be watching and will keep you abreast.

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