Copyright Puzzler Part Two

Let’s make the CC By-NC-SA versus First Sale battle more specific.

Jamie Boyle’s new book The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind is licensed CC By-NC-SA and is available for purchase from Amazon. If I purchase a copy of the book from Amazon – in other words, if I come to legally own a copy of the book – do I have the right to resell it for any amount of money I can get for it?

The book is also available for download. If I print out and bind this book – in other words, if I come to legally own a copy of the book – do I have the right to resell it for any amount of money I can get for it?

It’s the same book…

How about something else licensed CC By-NC-SA?

5 thoughts on “Copyright Puzzler Part Two”

  1. “do I have the right to resell it?”

    No, you can’t. There’s the NC clause in the license.

    – BY, means you have to mention it’s Jamie Boyle’s book
    – NC, can’t sell it
    – SA, can buy it or download-and-print it and then lend it or give it, away provided the one’s you give it to (by e-mail, or printed and binded) know they have to give attribution, can’t sell it, and can buy it or download-and-print it and… (etc.)

    Sorry but I can’t see the point in your questions: I’m unable to see where the puzzle is 🙁

  2. I think the question is “who made the copy?” Much like what Stephen Downes commented on the previous post. In the first case the book was copied by them. In the second case you made the copy. In much the same way you’re not supposed to copy and sell movies, you’d not be allowed to copy and sell books.

    With the example in the previous post, a computer file, I believe it would be covered by this as a very grey area. On the one hand you are selling a copy of the work. On the other hand you are selling a possession. If you were just selling a single copy, I’d think it could be defended as selling property, the DVDs. However if you repeat the process, then it would be a commercial selling operation.

    That’s my best guess.

  3. I don’t see the controversy in the first case. Copyright is the overarching law. First sale is an exception to copyright. BY-NC-SA is a license issued by the copyright owner. A license that hands out extra permissions can’t take away the permissions that already existed, including first sale. The original copy can be sold for whatever price you can get for it. Any other copies, whether derivatives or exact copies, can only be freely distributed with the same BY-NC-SA license.

    The electronic copy that can already be downloaded for free could possibly fit in a gray area. Perhaps one could say that the original file that was downloaded could be sold per first sale, but that would only make sense to do if the author later stopped offering it for free (or if the person you were selling it to was just really bad at searching). But anytime you do anything with a digital file, you’re dealing with copies, so you’d never actually be able to do anything with the “original”. Could you download the file 100 times and thus resell each original copy individually?

    I think what you’re getting at here is the question of whether first sale applies to electronic files. Whether or not one paid or didn’t pay for something should not affect whether first sale applies. If you find a book sitting in the garbage (right on top, like George Costanza’s eclair) you can sell it or whatever, just as you could do if you purchased it. But what about an electronic file?

    Whether or not first sale applies to electronic media the same as to physical media is a separate question from how a CC license affects what you can do with it.

    For the record, I’m okay with a nominal fee being charged to cover copying and distribution costs without violating NC.

  4. CC licenses are but a part of copyright.

    The author (i.e. the copyright owner) can:
    – self-publish and sell their own work
    – sign an agreement with an editor so that the editor can sell that work
    – or do whatever they please with their intellectual property rights

    CC licenses are just a way to add some shades of colour to copyright, but this copyright still (and absolutely) applies. CC licenses just enable the segmentation of your copyrighted work users. E.g.:
    – if you did not pay, you just can pass the work along (CC by-nc-sa)
    – if you paid, you can do business as usual (the usual (c) )

  5. “If I print out and bind this book”

    Here, you are making a copy of your copy so First Sale Doctrine no longer applies. That printed copy cannot be sold under the FSD. But yes, I’m still puzzled by the other situations you’ve described.

    FSD always assumed works were tangibly fixed. Digital storage and intangible transference (i.e. copying) over a network make this more complex…it seems.

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