A federal judge has ruled that a California software company’s “license agreement,” which is included with copies of its products, doesn’t prohibit buyers from reselling the software on sites such as eBay or anywhere else. Judge Richard A. Jones refused to dismiss the lawsuit against Autodesk, an eBay seller. The plaintiff sued Autodesk after the company prevented the man from reselling copies of “AutoCAD Release 14.” Autodesk filed several Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA) notices with eBay claiming the sale would infringe its copyright. The plaintiff acquired a used copy of AutoCAD at a garage sale in 2005 and put it up for auction on eBay. Autodesk sells this product in a shrink-wrapped box that includes a license agreement.
Public Citizen represented the plaintiff and contended that Autodesk’s actions suppressed competition and led to higher prices for consumers. It was contended in the complaint that the owner of a copyrighted product can resell that product without permission. The court was asked to protect the plaintiff’s rights to resell AutoCAD software. The judge’s ruling, filed in the U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington at Seattle, stated that the plaintiff is entitled to protection under the First Sale Doctrine, which allows a person who owns a lawfully-made copy of a copyrighted work to sell or dispose of the copy. Public Citizen lawyer Greg Beck, commenting on the ruling, stated:
This sends a clear message to copyright owners that once they sell a copy of their products, they have no right to control subsequent sales. Consumers deserve protection against these types of abusive tactics that can force consumers to pay higher prices.
The plaintiff’s lawsuit against Autodesk will proceed to trial. Seattle lawyer Michael Withey and Gary Rick, Public Citizen’s lawyer, represented the plaintiff in this suit and each did a very good job.
Source: Public Citizen
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