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not tay ber own

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Edmund Burke


First Sale Doctrine

From Softman Prods. Co. v. Adobe Sys. Inc., 171 F. Supp. 2d 1075 (C.D. Cal. 2001)

The "first sale" doctrine was first analyzed by the United States Supreme Court in Bobbs-Merrill Co. v. Straus, 210 U.S. 339 (1908). The Court held that the exclusive right to "vend" under the copyright statute applied only to the first sale of the copyrighted work. The doctrine has been codified at 17 U.S.C. 109(a). It states in relevant part: "the owner of a particular copy . . . lawfully made under this title . . . is entitled, without the authority of the copyright owner, to sell or otherwise dispose of the possession of that copy." 17 U.S.C. 109(a). One significant effect of 109(a) is to limit the exclusive right to distribute copies to their first voluntary disposition, and thus negate copyright owner control over further or "downstream" transfer to a third party. Quality King Distrib. v. L'Anza Research Int'l, Inc., 523 U.S. 135, 142-44 (1998). The first sale doctrine vests the copy owner with statutory privileges under the Act which operate as limits on the exclusive rights of the copyright owners.