Most people outside the software industry probably assume that when they pay money in exchange for a package of software, they have just purchased that software. In Vernor v. Autodesk, the Ninth Circuit today cast that assumption into doubt. The court held that Timothy Vernor, who purchased authentic, second-hand copies of software at garage and office sales to sell on eBay, did not own that software and thus had no right to resell it.
Public Citizen represented Vernor in his case against software-publisher Autodesk, which claimed that reselling the software on eBay was copyright infringement. The district court agreed with Vernor and rejected Autodesk’s copyright argument, holding that Vernor had a right to resell the software under copyright’s first-sale doctrine. The first-sale doctrine holds that the “owner of a particular copy” of a copyrighted work has the right to resell that work without permission of the copyright owner. The doctrine dates from a 1908 Supreme Court decision in which the Court held that a book publisher could
Stunning Statistics of the Week:
- Amount spent on television ads in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s home state of Nevada since June: $7.5 million
- Amount spent on those ads by outside groups: $2.8 million
- Amount Republican candidate Sharron Angle has spent on ads: $2.6 million
- Amount Reid has spent: $1.9 million
One year ago, fateful Citizens United argument was held
A year ago this week, arguments were held before the U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. A lot has transpired since then. In January, the court tossed out a century’s worth of campaign finance doctrine and ruled that corporations can spend unlimited amounts to influence elections. A spate of legislation has been proposed, a drive for a constitutional amendment is under way, states have had to dismantle their campaign finance laws and more.
Corporations use charities to influence lawmakers
Lawmakers are mixing charitable and political agendas, creating yet another loophole that ultimately allows more corporate influence in Congress, The New York Times reports. The paper found that “at least two dozen charities that lawmakers or their families helped create or run routinely accept donations from businesses seeking to influence them.” Among these corporations are AT&T, Chevron, General Dynamics, Morgan Stanley and Eli Lilly.
Sometimes when we can’t think of things to blog about we just turn to the Google and look to see what trouble those crazy guys at BP are up to. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel. Spencer Swartz in the Wall Street Journal reveals that BP’s supposedly “independent” internal investigation of what caused the tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico (that report released this week that put a lot of blame on Transocean and Haliburton) was vetted by BP’s lawyers before it was released to the public. Swartz writes:
The disclosure raises questions about the extent of the independence of BP’s report, which was released Wednesday and assigned much of the blame for the accident to BP’s contractors, Transocean Ltd. and Halliburton Co. The U.K. oil giant has said its four-month investigation on the causes of the accident, which killed 11 workers, was carried out without interference from senior management.
Flickr photo by kk+.
Flickr photo by Jon Betts.
A daily look at news from the Washington Post, New York Times and Wall Street Journal that caught our eye:
Energy and Environment
- EPA to study chemicals used to tap natural gas (NYT)
- Solar’s shining White House moment (WP)
- Reducing government’s carbon footprint (WP)
- BP lawyers reviewed report on rig accident (WSJ)
- EPA seeks gas-drilling facts (WSJ)
- Cheniere wins nod to export U.S. liquefied natural gas (WSJ)
- Hyundai develops fully electric car (WSJ)
- US trade deficit narrowed in July as exports rose (NYT)
- U.S. steelworkers target China (WP)
- Steelworkers blast China on subsidies (WSJ)
- Brain-age scans seen as potential gauge of child development (WP)
- U.S. rebukes health insurers (WSJ)
- Obama vs. Wall Street: Call a truce (WP)
- SEC hones in on Lehman, ‘Funds of Funds’ (WSJ)
- Agency examines oversight roles, possible conflict of advisory firms (WSJ)
Campaign Finance Reform and Ethics
- Gray wants federal probe of alleged vote-buying (WP)
- Fair courts at risk (NYT)