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Limitations on the Distribution Right

This lesson follows the Distribution Right lesson, CPY16. This lesson can best be characterized as the Limitation on the Distribution Right. Colloquially referred to as the First Sale Doctrine, 17 U.S.C. section 109 provides that the copyright owner's exclusive right of distribution and consent to that distribution effects the transfer of the rights in that copy or phonorecord, so long as the transfer was of a lawful copy or phonorecord embodying the copyrighted work.

This lesson will explore the rationale for the First Sale Doctrine, the elements that must be proved in order to use the Doctrine as a defense against a claim of infringement, and the limitations that are placed on the application of the defense. Two of the limitations on the application of the defense include recognition of copyright in restored works and the prohibition against the rental of a particular sound recording phonorecord or a particular copy of a computer program. The goal of this lesson is to provide a general introduction to the First Sale Doctrine as a defense to an alleged violation of the exclusive right of distribution as opposed to any other violation of the copyright owner's exclusive rights.

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