Archive for the ‘ can I do this? (selling things)’ Category

Why won\’t shops take returns on books, software, or patterns?

Tuesday, December 21st, 2004

If you ask, you may be told that the shop\’s policy addresses copyright concerns. However, all the shop is doing is selling the product; they\’re not actually telling anyone to make a copy of a book and return it. What do they have to be concerned about?

Obviously, there\’s a business concern here. If all customers bought books, copied them, then returned them, the shop wouldn\’t be making much of a profit on selling books. But there is also a copyright factor which has to do with authorizing copyright infringement. If a person in a position of apparent authority in a situation indicates verbally, or by its actions, that it is permissible to make infringing copies of a work, this person is authorizing infringement, and the person who actually makes the copies is directly infringing.

This \”authority\” does not have to be true authority over the direct infringer. A seller who tells her customers that it is \”all right\” to copy and return books may be found liable for authorizing infringement. A person who provides access to a photocopier to her customers, then turns a willfully blind eye to the infringing activities of her customers, may also be found liable for authorizing infringement.