Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Lifetime piling up: Aspen and new anti-first sale business models

When I teach property, I generally don’t teach much IP because I’ve found I get frustrated with the necessary quickness of any coverage.  But they’ve come for my casebook, and so I must respond.  Aspen is making the next edition of Dukeminier, Krier et al. into a tied deal, purporting to provide a physical copy that must be returned at the end of the semester (thus trying to defeat first sale, even though this type of servitude isn’t historically allowed for chattels and I disagree with the apparent idea that this is an enforceable condition) while providing “lifetime” access to an electronic version. 

Paul Levy suggests a boycott is in order.  I agree that I’m not about to require my students to pay this money for a book they won’t be able to resell plus non-credible “lifetime” access. The internet is littered with the corpses of websites that were supposed to give you access to your paid-for, DRMed content forever, including websites backed by some very big names.  I’m pretty lazy and don’t like to switch casebooks, but I guess I have to if this policy persists.  Law school is expensive; so is giving up the first sale doctrine.

1 comment:

Steve M said...

Conceivably, these putative "licenses" might be challenged as an unlawful vertical restraint under the antitrust laws.

Of course, that just gets us into a messy rule of reason analysis...