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Supreme Court Ruling May Put An End To eBay, Craigslist, And Even Yard Sales

US Supreme Court first-sale principle

A pending US Supreme Court case could ban yard sales and popular online selling websites such as eBay and Craigslist. In 1997, Supap Kirtsaeng relocated from Thailand to attend Cornell University. Kirtsaeng was not on campus long before he realized how much more expensive college text books were in America than his native Thailand.

The industrious young man asked his family to buy a whole lot of books and ship them to him in the United States. Kirtsaeng reportedly made a $1.2 million profit by selling the academic books on eBay at prices which undercut bookstores across the country, Death and Taxes Magazine reports. Wiley, the textbook manufacturer, sued Kirtsaeng for copyright infringement, Market Watch notes.

During the first court battle, which Supap Kirtsaeng lost, the judge ruled that the first-sale principle only applies to items manufactured in the United States. The law basically states that a company or business can only get paid one time for a product, and a customer has the right to re-sell it later and keep the proceeds.

Once upon a time, when most of the items Americans used where actually made here, the law did not spark much controversy. But, if the US Supreme Court upholds the lower court’s ruling, yard sales and making some extra cash by getting rid of unwanted items online would likely come to an end.

Internet giant eBay is watching the court case very closely. A statement released by the company claims that not allowing items made abroad to be covered by the first-sale principle would adversely impact trade, small businesses, e-commerce, consumers, and jobs in the United States. Since many American-made vehicles have parts that were manufactured overseas, selling old cars to help finance a new one could very well be a thing of the past as well.

The first-sale principle became law in 1908. If SCOTUS does not overturn the lower court ruling, it would be up to Congress to change the law.

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Comments

37 Responses to “Supreme Court Ruling May Put An End To eBay, Craigslist, And Even Yard Sales”

  1. Jon Winters

    I can't "like" this but I will comment. So I'm getting that Capitalism is the exclusive right of the corporate manufacturer, which (by twisted law) is a person too, but is a person who wants control of a product after they sell it. hmm.. Question: if capitalism worked so well for this student (little person) why should it work better for the corporation (Big person)? Are they price gouging American students? Isn't that embarassing? Hence the defensive lawsuit.

  2. Caroline Winters Haring

    Selling a bunch of my personal belongings on craigslist certainly helped me when we were so destitute. I bought diapers, wipes, food and shoes for my kids. I guess the government is ticked off at me for taking care of my family myself, when they could have done it for me. Taking that tool from me will enable them to 'help' me better than I could help myself. Breeding a culture of dependants.

  3. Ray FooL

    this is fucking stupid. but why not? i mean this is the land of the free. american dreams and all. where little kids now need permits to sell lemonade. America.

  4. Anonymous

    This will end thrift stores for those people who can't afford the pricey store items. I even heard it might end being able to resale your home. What in the heck would you do with your old cars and your old homes, etc? And good luck moving! Well, I guess this will also affect the landfills. This is quite ridiculous if you ask me.

  5. Todd Huttenstine

    Wow… So how it is right for them to undercut the American people by outsourcing our jobs so they can up their profit margins when we still buy their product, but when we do it to them they say it's wrong because we INFRINGED on their "rights" to exclusively capture a market? Bascially they said screw the American people and screw their jobs as long as I can make more money paying someone less in a 3rd world country. Then they do it. They stole our jobs. Now when some small guy basically ends up cutting into that profit margin by offering it at a price they do not like, then they turn back on the people and say how dare you cause us to lose money. That is very non free market like.

  6. Todd Huttenstine

    Maybe it's not about the greed anymore. Now maybe this is an attempt to launch us into a new phase of their plan and DESTROY the US economy. I cant see how they wouldn't think this new law would benefit them financially if it's implemented. It's got to be about wiping out the middle class and below, because this will certainly do it.

  7. Ashley Marie

    I am sick of the Government slowly taking all of our rights away.

  8. Anonymous

    Hmmm, does that mean we couldn't sell a car that was made in another country – this is much bigger than it may seem.

  9. Tasha Pifer

    is there anywhere we can send letters or anyway we can start a petition?

  10. Heather Moyer

    Understanding Kirtsaeng v. Wiley

    Kirtsaeng v. Wiley:

    The Right of US Copyright Owners to Restrict Importation of Versions of Their Works Acquired Abroad and Made Under Foreign Law for Sale and Use in Other Countries

  11. Tom Passarello

    We are slowly going back to the stone age. I guess we need to start trading and bartering. Heck, eventually if enough people do it no taxes will get paid and government will collapse form lack of revenue. This is probably the only way to get rid of this government. It's obsolete anyway.

  12. Jenny Hunt

    I am curious… if its obsolete, what would you replace it with?

  13. Tom Passarello

    I would like to see more interactive communication and voting through websites where the American citizen's could vote on what is needed to be done in this country. One vote = one vote ! Vote from the privacy of your own home. Security measures will have to be met. Cut out the middle man. It's our country ! This would cut through all the red tape, favoritism, lies, etc; through our "politicians". This would also reduce government spending drastically. Jenny, I know you will have a come back for this. It's an idea. It's an approach that gives American's some control over there lives.

  14. Jenny Hunt

    Pretty ambitious… we cant get parents to get involved in their children's schools/education. Pure democracies fail… that is why we are a republic. Let me give you a small example why pure democracy would not work… you have 2 wolves and 1 sheep voting about what is for dinner.

  15. Keith Creasy

    So whats your point. We need 2,918,4368 (Approx Number of Elected Government officials & Federal employees under the Executive branch umbrella combined) telling me WTF i'm having for dinner. Theres a VERY fine line between the two. Since the Majority rules on the lowest election scale hence your "Local" representative wins. That's a Democracy. When they all get funneled to Washington and they hire more people, experts, think tanks, lobbyist, and open more departments to write, debate, and basically "Dummy" it all down to include EVERYONE…well, thats a "Republic" as it stand now. No Thanks. I like Tom's idea and i'm comfortable knowing that i'll be having Sheep for dinner. Baaaa Baaaaa. Hahahahahaha

  16. Jenny Hunt

    as it stands right now… we are lucky if 1/2 of the people registered to vote, or of voting age, to show up at the polls to vote… and registered Democrats are the worst. And you want to have everyone vote for every issue every time?? Logistic nightmare. (and I like nightmares.) And how many people actually read the voter documentation sent to them (at considerable cost) detailing the referendums, judges, blah blah blah… Maybe, instead of throwing the baby out with the bath water, we fix what we have. It still is the most successful form of government on the planet.

  17. Carter Hoffman

    how could the us even due this? ebay is a worldwide company, doesn't matter where it's based, all people would still have to do is go into another countries website erea and buy from there, is the us government that corrupt that they think people wont find a way around this shit? just let it the fuck go, it's one's fault if they fall into fraud, and once one purchases an item and wants to sell it, who gives a shit, the original creater only got paid once. and that's all there is too it.

  18. Christine 'Kitten' Defenbaugh

    You are mistaken Heather. The Second Circuit explicitly disallows the first sale doctrine in ANY case where the copyright protected item was manufactured overseas. Even if it is purchased in the US after authorized import.

    Now, the Ninth Circuit reasoning in Costco v Omega would apply first sale doctrine to anything authorized to be imported and sold in the US by the copyright holder. Your post is correct only if the Supreme Court adopts the Ninth Circuit's reasoning from Costco instead of just affirming the Second Circuit's opinion in its entirety.

  19. Joseph Michael Miller

    the materials the home is made of may be a different story.

  20. Adriana Agostinelli

    Wow people. Nothing has been done yet, and you are already blaming the gov as though they passed it. If you don't have faith, then do something. Write a letter to your congressman or something.

  21. Meghan August

    I am a college student so when I moved to my apartment and did not have alot of funds I used craigslist. I really don't want to spend about $100-114 for the Hogan's Heroes series on dvd when I can get it on craigslist for $50.

  22. Anonymous

    These soft people who have never had to work and just collect money from us, stop letting them tell you what to do England and the UN and many other countries and people are calling the shots. It is the modern day masters and slaves. They figured out that they can enslave all of us and make a KILLING! Womens lib doubled their income because they were able to tax the other half of the population and they could live better while we lived worse. They are like welfare recipients on a much larger scale but we don't look at it that way because they are rich. This is the way they get rich off of us they ride on us. Also they have been rich since the beginning. Why doesn't anyone question anything ever we all just keep letting these criminals be above the law and enslave us. They pay us peanuts and take take TAKE. GET UP STAND UP WAKE UP…..BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE….. a few things to look up well that is if you care at all.
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    Oh and as always PEACE.