Your Rights Online


 
So, another shameless slashdot repost, since it concerns copyright and also because it’s one of my personal bugbears.
From AECNews comes this interesting article about AutoDesk Inc (makers of AutoCAD) who invoked the holy Digital Millennium Copyright Act to have  copies of AutoCAD removed from sale on the popular auction site eBay.
 
The idea is that, by preventing resale of their software, they force people to purchase their software new, thus creating more sales and preventing consumers from reselling their software.  AutoCAD apparently is shrinkware, where the license terms are not known before purchase (as an off the shelf item) thus, the trms (‘licensing’) are not known prior to purchase.  Autodesk Inc don’t want people reselling the physical media (which under US law is property and quite legal to resell) since that removes potential sales.
 
Shadowy practice or legitimate sales strategy?  You be the judge..
 
More from the article:
he law [DMCA] passed in 1998 was designed to give intellectual property rights owners a way to have content removed from the internet that violates copyright law. An example would be a television show uploaded to YouTube without permission from the production company. The right to sell an item that has been legally purchased is protected under copyright law. The first sale doctrine allows an individual to transfer ( i.e. sell, giveaway etc.) a lawfully made copy of an item without permission once it has been obtained. The doctrine has been part of US law since the Supreme Court recognized it in 1908 and covers everything from books and DVDs to clothing and automobiles.
 
Autodesk is using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to have legal copies of their software removed from eBay so they can sell more new copies. The latest version of AutoCAD software is around $4,000 a copy. Autodesk’s lawyer, Andrew S. Mackay states "AutoCAD software is licensed, not sold and that license is not transferable." AutoCAD software is available for purchase at most major software retailers. There is no indication your purchase would be different from any other until you get it home and open the box. There is a piece of paper tucked inside that says it is a licensing agreement with the statement "by opening the sealed software packet(s), you agree to be bound by the terms and conditions of this license agreement".   This is called a "shrink wrap" contract. It cannot be read until you open the package which according to the contract constitutes agreement. US courts have not held a "shrink wrap " contract to be valid. Furthermore the Digital Millennium Copyright Act is only intended to enforce copyright violations, not breach of contract.
Click on the link above to read the full article.  It’ll be interesting to see where this trial leads.
/R
 

 


About Rob Sanders

IT Professional and TOGAF 9 certified architect with nearly two decades of industry experience, 18 years in commercial software development and 11 years in IT consulting. Check out the "About Rob" page for more information.

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