Featured News 2012 Your Right to Sell your Stuff is in Jeopardy!

Your Right to Sell your Stuff is in Jeopardy!

When you are slowly losing money and sliding into debt, you may decide to sell some of your more valuable items to lessen the load. With online markets like eBay and Craig’s List, it’s easy to advertise and then sell your possessions to a willing buyer for a price that can contribute to your own debt reduction. Whether you choose to sell your new iPhone 5 or your grandmother’s antique wardrobe, it is often helpful to know that you can sell your possessions when your money is in peril. Recently, a case has been brewing in the U.S. Supreme Court which has the power to terminate your right to sell your own possessions. According to Market Watch, the name of the case is Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons. At issue is the ethics of selling a copyrighted product without getting permission from the copyright holder.

Up until now, people have always had permission to resell an item that they buy, as long as they do so out of their own home or on a personal basis. For example, you can have a garage sale and sell your possessions to make a little profit, or market items individually online. In 1908 the Supreme Court declared that all Americans have the right to resell their possessions without worry because copyright holders only have control over an item’s first sale. Once it is out of its original retail store, the item is allegedly fair fame. Now, the court case that is brewing in the U.S. Supreme Court could change that for all products that were created in countries like Japan, China, and Europe. If the laws are passed, consumers will need to get permission from the manufacturer before they are able to sell any items that were manufactured in these countries.

A professor at the Georgetown University Law Center says that this will make it harder for all consumers to buy any used products and it will also make it harder to sell them. The new ordinance would heavily affect online marketplaces that sell used items from one household to another. It could also heavily affect all thrift and consignment stores where people purchase clothing, furniture, and knick-knacks. Many lawyers speculate that if the law is passed, all manufacturers who require permissions before their items are sold will also want a piece of the resale profit. One attorney says that the new ordinance would affect any item that came from overseas, from a book to the family jewels. He says that libraries, musicians, museums, and other entities would also be affected since they often sell their wares to the public during special sales. The Supreme Court will hear an oral argument for this case at the end of the month. Some speculators believe that the law would encourage manufacturers to have their products created overseas so that they could get a cut of any resale profits in the United States.

If this ordinance was passed, it would also have a unique impact on Chapter 7 bankruptcies where items are liquidated in order to give the filer the finances that he or she needs to repay debt. All items that were created outside of the United States may be susceptible to the new laws, therefore some products may not be sold and others may be sold but only if the manufacturer gets a large cut of the profit. This could essentially make things very complicated for filers who need money fast to satisfy creditors. Contact a bankruptcy attorney today if you want more information about how this potential law could affect your ability to sell your own possessions in the event of a bankruptcy!

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