The Supreme Court is looking at a case that may prevent individuals from reselling foreign made devices containing copyrighted works:
At issue in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons is the first-sale doctrine in copyright law, which allows you to buy and then sell things like electronics, books, artwork and furniture, as well as CDs and DVDs, without getting permission from the copyright holder of those products.
Under the doctrine, which the Supreme Court has recognized since 1908, you can resell your stuff without worry because the copyright holder only had control over the first sale.
Put simply, though Apple Inc. AAPL has the copyright on the iPhone and Mark Owen has it on the book “No Easy Day,” you can still sell your copies to whomever you please whenever you want without retribution.
That’s being challenged now for products that are made abroad, and if the Supreme Court upholds an appellate court ruling, it would mean that the copyright holders of anything you own that has been made in China, Japan or Europe, for example, would have to give you permission to sell it.
I know many of my friends will be in a tizzy over this case but such shenanigans are nothing new for gun owners. Federally licensed firearms dealers have long been required to perform a background check on anybody purchasing a firearm. On top of that many individual states, including California, Illinois, and New York [PDF], require all firearms sales to go through federally licensed dealers making it illegal for an individual to sell a firearm directly to another individual. Last year gun control extremist extraordinaire, Chuck Schumer, was pushing to ban all private sales of firearms in the United States. Effectively all federally licensed firearms deals and all individuals in several individual states are prevented from selling their firearms without the state’s permission.
State power only increases. When the state managed to control the sale and transfer of one good it set a precedence for controlling the sale and transfer of all other goods. Those of us in the gun community are well aware of the state’s power over the sale and transfer of firearms so we’re probably the least likely to be surprised by any ruling that would prevent the sale and transfer of foreign made devices containing copyrighted material.
The question we must now ask if how will the Supreme Court rule. I wouldn’t be surprised if they uphold the current ruling (which states it is illegal to resell foreign made devices containing copyrighted works without permission). It would be trivial to uphold such a ruling using the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Commerce Clause. At that point I will gladly welcome owners of electronic devices into the club of individuals possessing goods that cannot be sold without state approval.