December 17, 2003

Surprise! Copyright is Hard to Understand [8:49 am]

From Wired News: Film Fans Befuddled by Copyright — more fuel for Jessica Litman’s thesis that copyright has become too byzantine to be enforced in its current forms

A major studio’s recent action to curtail online sales of its films has left some movie buffs confused about where and when purchasing foreign DVDs is legitimate.

In general, U.S. law permits consumers to buy imported DVDs for personal use. But the law is a little murkier for retailers.

[...] So when and where can film purists seek out the original versions of foreign movies?

In the non-Internet world, if one buys a foreign DVD overseas and brings it home in a suitcase for personal use, that’s legal. Hauling 100 DVDs back to the United States and selling them, however, is not.

Ordering a movie online from an overseas distributor, so long as it is not a counterfeit copy, is also permitted under U.S. law.

[...] But one industry attorney argued that finer points regarding the legalities of buying online from foreign sites have yet to be decided by courts.

“I think if you buy one copy over the Internet for your personal use, it’s unclear right now where that would fall,” said George Borkowski, an attorney with Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp. “I don’t think the law has been resolved specifically on Internet purchases.”

A followup to Logical Extension of the 2600 Decision?

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