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first sale doctrine
Last modified: Tuesday, October 21, 2003 

A legal principle that limits a rightsholder’s rights to control content after it has been sold for the first time. According to first sale doctrine, lawful ownership of an item, such as a music CD or a book, is not the same as owning the copyright of the item. The owner of the item may lend, resell, give away and or/destroy the copyrighted item but is not granted the right to copy the item in its entirety. The transfer of the copy does not include the transfer of the content’s copyright. The legal principle applies to physical items as well as digital content that is downloaded over the Internet.

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The First Sale Doctrine in the Era of Digital Networks 
This article considers the long-term impact of technological change on the first sale doctrine.

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Computer Law

Digital Rights Management (DRM)


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