First Sale?

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  • I came across an interesting issue today that I wanted to get some feedback about. I'm a medical student preparing to take my board exams. Kaplan offers 2 services to help us prepare: 1. You can purchase their books 2. You can purchase their class, which includes their books.

    I was told today that according to a warning in the copyright notice, they say it is illegal to resell their books after the class. Isn't this illegal for them to mandate that, due to the First-Sale Doctrine? I was also told that they force you to sign a contract when signing up for the class that says you will not resell the books. I'm not sure what it says the ramifications are if you do.

    My question is, "Is what Kaplan is doing illegal?"
  • There is nothing illegal here. It is perfectly acceptable to override the ordinary provisions of the copyright law by contract between private parties. As long as parties will agree to give up the right of first sale in order to gain access to the books, there is nothing in the law to prevent this agreement. I agreed to the same terms in order to gain access to the study materials from BAR BRI for the two state bar exam I have taken.

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