‘First Sale’ is part of US copyright law – a doctrine developed over two hundred years of legal precedent and law changes. It provides rights to people or entities that have legally and lawfully bought a copy of something that has been copyrighted, such as a book or similar work.
Technipages Explains First Sale
The doctrine states that the first purchase of a book or other work fulfils the buyer’s duty to the owner. In other words, while the buyer IS obligated to pay for the work, the completion of the sale satisfies that obligation. The owner of the new copy is then allowed to lend, show, give or sell that copy to someone else, and without any risk of violating the copyright.
This doesn’t mean that the work can be copied, digitalised or reproduced, or anything of the sort, but if a copy of a book is gifted to someone, the recipient does not have any additional obligation to the holder of the copyright, such as an additional payment or anything of the sort. Duplicating copyrighted works without permission is illegal, of course, but having purchased a single copy, the owner of said copy is not obligated to the copyright owner in any way.
Common Uses of First Sale
- First sale is the term for a directive that protects the owners of copies of copyrighted works from frivolous lawsuits.
- While it doesn’t cover reproductions and copies, first sale does cover gifting or selling on the book in question.
- First sale is a principle from US copyright – while other countries have their own versions of this directive, it technically only applies in the US and to works copyrighted in the US.
Common Misuses of First Sale
- First sale is a directive that says that a work is only copyrighted after it has first been sold.