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�Magic Words� Trump User Rights: Ninth Circuit Ruling in Vernor v. Autodesk

Sep 14, 2010, 13:36 (14 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Corynne McSherry)

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"In a major blow to user rights, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a decision that will go a long way toward ensuring that software buyers will rarely be software owners.

"In a triumph of legal formalism over reality, the Court held that the copyright's first sale doctrine – the law that allows you to resell books and that protects libraries and archives from claims of copyright infringement – doesn't apply to software (and possibly DVDs, CDs and other "licensed" content) as long as the vendor saddles the transfer with enough restrictions to transform what the buyer may think is sale into a mere license.

"Here's the back story: Timothy Vernor bought four packages of Autodesk's AutoCAD software at a garage sale and tried to sell them on eBay. Autodesk threatened Mr. Vernor with a copyright lawsuit, claiming that its software is only "licensed," never sold and pointing to the fine print on the agreement it had with the original purchaser."

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