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Man may spend up to 5 years in federal prison for selling counterfeit CDs

A Florida man is facing up to $250,000 in fines and five years in federal prison after being convicted of selling counterfeit CDs at a flea market. According to authorities, he sold thousands of CDs over a span of five years, which of course is a serious copyright infringement. When authorities raided his home, they seized more than 16,000 counterfeit CDs.

So, besides the obvious scale of his operation, what's the difference between what he was doing and selling a few CDs you no longer listen to at a garage sale?

This is a good chance to tell Sacramento readers about the first sale doctrine. In copyright law, the first sale doctrine holds that once a copyright owner has sold a particular copy of a work, the owner of that copy can then dispose of it how he or she wishes, including giving it away or reselling it, and the copyright holder can't interject.

However, the first sale doctrine also holds that simply purchasing a copy of a work does not grant the purchaser any copyright privileges.

Thus, if you were to buy a copy of Katy Perry's latest album, you could go ahead and sell it to someone or gift it as a gift. You could not, however, burn copies of it and give it to all your friends, since distribution and reproduction are exclusive rights of a copyright holder.

The first sale doctrine is only one element of copyright law which, like most of intellectual property law, has quite a few complexities that can be tough to navigate. If you have been thinking you need some advice about a copyright, we hope the copyright page of our website will prove to be a resource for you.

Source: The Orlando Sentinel, "Ocala man convicted of copyright infringement for selling counterfeit CDs at Webster Flea Market," Eloisa Ruano Gonzalez, July 26, 2012

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