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--------------- Print Magazine --------------
  May 2016
  April 2016
Sold computer programs 'licensed', not 'sold': Court

In a ruling that stands in favour of the computer software industry, a federal appeals court said that the doctrine of 'first sale' evolved by the US Supreme Court around 102 years back does not extend to the sale of second-hand computer programs.

The 9th circuit ruling in question is expected to benefit book publishers, music labels and movie studios, who may now be able to use the ruling as a way around the doctrine of 'first sale', according to which copyright owners cannot bar the users from re-selling or renting out the product so long as no copies are made from the original. It is under the shade of this doctrine that the used books and music stores operate and flourish.

However, the three-judge Bench of the 9th circuit ruled that the doctrine of 'first sale' did not apply to software programs. The case involved an online merchant by the name Timothy Vernor, who had purhcased the unopened software put together by Autodesk Inc., and had not expressly agreed to the licensing agreement imposed on the original buyer, according to which the right to run the software in question was simply being licensed and not sold, which did not confer the right on Vernor to re-sell the software, as per the court.

The court held that unless there was a definite sale, the doctrine of first sale does not come into play. The decision overturned the decision by a lower federal court in Washington State.

The San Rafael based Autodesk has welcomed the decision. It is noteworthy that the Software & Information Industry Association supplied the documents to the court in support of the Autodesk's case.

However, the decision has set the ball rolling for other legal battles that are very likely to follow because now the definitions of sale and license and the implications of those definitions for the copyright owners can become the subject- matter of litigation. After all, in a way the decision disallows the buyers of intellectual property from being considered the absolute owners of the material bought. This could be a contentious issue.

Virginia to execute first woman in 98 years

Come September 23, Virginia would execute its first female convict in 98 years unless the governor or the Supreme Court stands in the way of the execution of one Lewis, a 41-year-old grandmother, who has been convicted and sentenced for having her husband and stepson murdered and playing an active role in the slaying.

Lewis has pled guilty to the charge of hiring two men to kill her husband, Julian Lewis, and her stepson in 2002, so that she could collect the insurance money. The courts considered the crime particularly heinous on account of her active participation.

The killers and Lewis wanted to make it look like a case of robbery gone wrong, for which she took out money from her husband's wallet after he was shot. In order to ensure that her husband was dead she also delayed seeking police assistance. However, things did not work out the way she wished, for her husband could still tell the cops, "My wife knows who done this to me." He died later. It was also discovered that Teresa Lewis was having an affair with one of the men she had roped in to perpetrate the crime.

One of the gunmen has been sentenced to life in prison, but the court did not find any reason to award lesser punishment to Lewis, calling her "the head of this serpent." The case, however, is not as simple as it might appear because Lewis' IQ has been found to be as low as 70, which makes her a borderline case of mental retardation, which, in turn, raises serious questions regarding her ability to make reasoned decisions.

Lewis' lawyers want clemency for her on the grounds that she is mentally incompetent and, thus, cannot be executed. Under Virginia law an individual is considered mentally retarded only when he or she has a lower than average IQ score backed by a record of the inability to function within society. Courts have ruled against the position that Lewis qualified for clemency on grounds of mental retardation.

If Lewis' execution is carried out, she will be the 12th woman to be executed since 1976, when death penalty was re-instated.

20 States challenge Obama's Health Care measures

With a federal judge refusing to dismiss a lawsuit against Obama's health care measures in totality, it seems that the challenge to Obama's health care overhaul would wind up before the US Supreme Court.

The lawsuit has been filed by 20 States that seek to bring into question the legality of the compulsion to have health insurance, and also of the requirement that the States must pay additional Medicaid costs.

According to Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Ian Heath Gershengorn, if the legal challenge of the States succeeds, it would overturn the law that has stood for decades backing the legitimacy of the federal government's power to regulate interstate commerce.

However, on their part, the lawyers for Obama Administration have argued that the part requiring health insurance takes effect after 2015, and an individual taxpayer was free to mount a challenge after the law comes into force, but it was not open for the States to challenge the law before it becomes fully operational.

But then, the attorneys representing the States argue that the law would assail States' constitutional sovereignty by making them shoulder the burden of uncontrolled Medicaid costs, and in doing so the federal government was overreaching its authority to impose taxes.


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