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Your right to sell your stuff

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Oct 9, 2012

Is your right to sell your very own used stuff in peril?

Jennifer Waters’ Consumer Confidential says:

Tucked into the U.S. Supreme Court’s busy agenda this fall is a little-known case that could upend your ability to resell everything from your grandmother’s antique furniture to your iPhone 4.

The short version: In the U.S. courts have long recognized that once we buy something — whether it’s a Van Gogh painting or a Toyota — it’s ours and we can re-sell it.

Not so in some other parts of the world — or at least not without paying obeisance to the original maker. And now one more attempt is being made to impose other people’s laws on us. So potentially, if your car has Japanese parts or you bought that dress on a trip to Italy, it might become illegal to re-sell it.

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t

If Ms. Waters is right, and the Nazgul do their frequently statist thing, we could technically lose The All-American Garage Sale. Or eBay. Or Craigslist. Or … perhaps even gun trading?

Sounds alarming.


Now let’s stop a second. And give a hearty, insouciant Freedom Outlawlaugh (once again) to the arrogance of Our Rulers.

Then let’s get some practicalities out of the way before we continue slapping our thighs in contemptful, Outlaw glee.

The Supremes just might choose to find against statism this time. If the Nazgul rule bad, Congress could afterward choose to restore Our Right to eBay via legislation.

But no matter what they do, if it hinders us from selling our stuff it’s just chaos-causing nonsense.

Remember the diktat a couple of years back that was going to prevent anybody from selling used kids clothes, toys, blankies, etc.? (Might contain lead, you know.) It stunk. It also got howled down by an angry public. Oh, sorry. I mean the ruling got “clarified.”

And even if it hadn’t, do you believe for one minute that millions of mommies and daddies around the country would have said, “Oh, well, then. I guess we’d better landfill Baby’s old stuff in lead-lined containers to keep the world safe from lead that might be in it. We don’t dare defy the Might of the Federal Government to make a buck off it”? Hahahahaha! Not one freaking chance.

No matter what the Supreme Court says, no matter what Congress does or doesn’t do, this is just the sort of issue that — hey, ain’t it grand! — produces more Outlaws. And more ordinary, everyday, going-about-our-business contempt for Authoritah.


Oh, I’m sure if the Supremes rule that we have to pay the copyright and patent holders to resell our stuff, some unpleasant mainstream accommodations will be made. Maybe there will be licenses required for resale with money going into a fund to pay off the original manufacturers. Rembrandt’s wife’s third cousin 10 generations removed and Whistler’s mother’s aunt’s brother’s great-great-grandson will sue for a “fair share” when somebody tries to sell a masterpiece. Companies or individuals with big financial interests will make life miserable for big institutions that facilitate that resale of goods — and make things more expensive for those who try to resell in such aboveboard ways. An “eBay tax,” anyone?

But as for the rest of us, we’ll just slip further between the cracks, further underground, further into having a Good Bad Attitude. Nobody will stop doing what they do. If some damn law or ruling makes it difficult or expensive, we’ll just do it in a different way. And millions more will realize that the gummint, despite a lifetime of propaganda, doesn’t really exist to help them … and isn’t really powerful enough to hinder them, either.

And so power crumbles …


This article was posted: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 1:47 am

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