Court Ruling May Give Copyright Owners More Restricting Rights

It's a question the courts have been grappling with for more than century: How much control can copyright owners exercise over copies of their works?

Back in 1908, the Supreme Court rejected a book publisher's attempt to control the resale of its books. But just a few months ago, the 9th Circuit distinguished that decision and upheld a software publisher's attempt to control the resale of its software.

Lease Loophole

Autodesk makes AutoCAD software, a popular computer-aided design program. Each copy of AutoCAD comes with a license agreement, which customers must accept in order to install the software. This agreement specifies that Autodesk retains title to all copies and that the customer has only a nonexclusive and nontransferable license to use the software. The agreement also restricts what users can do with the software. It forbids them, for instance, from transferring the software without Autodesk's prior consent or using the software outside the Western Hemisphere. If a customer violates any of the restrictions, the license is terminated.


Steven Seidenberg

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