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Demand Progress: David Moon, firstname.lastname@example.org
Electronic Frontier Foundation: Rebecca Jeschke, email@example.com
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Fight for the Future: Douglas Schatz, email@example.com
Public Knowledge: Sherwin Siy, firstname.lastname@example.org
Over 100,000 Sign Petition Calling for Protection of Ownership Rights
Citizens rally as oral argument nears in Kirtsaeng v. Wiley case in U.S. Supreme Court
More than 100,000 people have signed a petition urging the President and the Attorney General to support the “ownership rights” of all Americans. Ownership rights include the right to resell, give away, and otherwise use lawfully purchased goods in any lawful manner. The petitions were delivered today to leaders within the Obama Administration. The petition drive was organized by Citizens for Ownership Rights, a coalition of public interest groups and individuals that are concerned about the erosion of ownership rights in America.
“Ownership rights matter to all Americans, and we are pleased that within one month of launching our petition drive we have reached 100,000 signatures and counting,” said David Moon, program director at Demand Progress. “Part of our goal is to raise awareness and educate Americans and policy makers about the threats to ownership rights, rights many take for granted.”
A series of recent federal court decisions on U.S. Copyright Act have undermined ownership rights. Of particular concern, is the upcoming Supreme Court case, Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., which has the potential to eliminate ownership rights for legitimate goods manufactured overseas.
The case involves an entrepreneurial graduate student named Supap Kirtsaeng who was trying to raise money for college. Mr. Kirtsaeng acquired legitimate textbooks through friends and family in Thailand and sold them in the U.S. through various e-commerce sites. Mr. Kirtsaeng was sued by the book publisher, John Wiley and Sons, who claimed that US copyright law barred his unauthorized sales of the textbooks. In response, Kirtsaeng claimed that he was the lawful owner of those books, since he had paid full price for them in Thailand, and he could now do with them what he wished.
The court ruled against Kirtsaeng, holding that because the books were manufactured outside the US, he was in violation of U.S. copyright law for being an unauthorized seller. Kirtsaeng has appealed the case to the Supreme Court, which will hear arguments in the fall.
Sherwin Siy, deputy legal director of Public Knowledge said, “If the lower court’s decision is upheld, it could mean that the owner of a good made outside the US, whether that owner us an individual or a business, may need to get permission from a copyright owner every time he or she decides to sell, or even give away, the good. It’s nonsensical.”
“This perverse application of copyright law could have severe impacts on global commerce, particularly on the Internet,” said Patrick Ruffini, title of Engage DC. “The Internet has provided tremendous value for consumers enabling them to compare prices by shopping from other Internet users and businesses of all sizes, around the globe. We cannot sit idly by and allow manufacturers to use copyright law to eliminate ownership rights and place unfair restrictions on global commerce,” Ruffini said.
“Not only is this bad for consumers, it could have significant consequences for libraries and other organizations and businesses that lend products. We hope that the President, his Administration and other lawmakers will come forward to express their support for ownership rights,” said Corinne McSherry, Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Intellectual Property Director.
The petition and more information about the issue and the campaign can be found at http://ownershiprights.org.
Citizens for Ownership Rights is a coalition of public interest groups and associations behind a petition drive asking citizens to send a strong message to the President of the United States and the Attorney General that ownership rights are a foundational principle of a strong democracy. Organizations include: Demand Progress, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Engage, Fight for the Future, and Public Knowledge. Any group or individual that feels passionately about issues that affect our ability to use the Internet to access information and goods on a global scale is invited to be a part of the campaign.