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Can I Sell My iTunes Library? The Implications of Expanding the First Sale Doctrine to Digital Goods

Constance Boutsikaris

©2015. Published in Landslide, Vol. 8, No. 2, November/December 2015, by the American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association or the copyright holder.

Most people do not realize the important role that the first sale doctrine plays in our nation’s commerce. For over a century, the doctrine has allowed owners of physical copies of books, movies, or compact discs (CDs) to sell or otherwise transfer ownership to others without the permission of the copyright owner.1 While the doctrine has served us well in the age of physical formats, we are now in an era where consumer need for digital content such as e-books and streaming services for music, television shows, and movies has far surpassed consumer need for physical formats.

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