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copyrighted materials on ebay...

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What is the name of your state? California.

My situation is this:

I listed some test preparation materials on EBAY. (these are coursebooks for a law school prep course)

About 2 days later, I received an email accusing me of copyright infringement. There were threats that they would report me to all law schools and the state bar.

Additionally, the would "file a comprehensive lawsuit in the Federal Court, for the Central District of California against you for among other charges: 1) Fraud; 2) Breach of Contract; 3) Tortuous Interference with Contractual Relations; 3) Copyright Infringement; 4) Lanham Act Violations; 5) Trademark Violations."

I want to make clear my position. I found these books near a dumpster at my apartment complex. I am not taking the LSAT, Law exam nor will I ever become a lawyer or become a member of the bar.

Secondly, I was never a student of this course or in any way affiliated with the company.

Just reading the copyright notice within the books, I realized that there is this:

"This publication can only be used by students and employees. This publication is confidential and proprietary to , and cannot be sold, loaned, rented, given away, distributed, or explited in any manner." Then it goes on talking about how the students of haveentered into written contract that "prohibits them from sharing this publication with any other person or persons."

I was never a student of their Company.

The email prompted me to mail back all the materials or I will face legal action and all law schools will be notified. It also asks me to call their in house lawyer if I have no legal representation.

I feel that I am not obligated to waste the time or money on postage so I replied to their email which demands a response by Saturday and explained my position and told them that I will discard these materials.

Am I acting correctly?
Did I infringe?
How should I proceed?

Can I really get into big trouble for just listing books I found??

Thank you for your advice!

Last edited:



response from the company...

"Although you have never taken a class with "Company" the book are still copyrighted and selling them whether you where a past student or found them near a dumpster is illegal. Printed in each book is a copyright stating, "This publication can only be used by -Company- students and -Company- employees.
This publication is confidential and propriety to -Company-, and cannot be sold, loaned, rented, given away, distributed or exploited in any manner."
However, you sending the materials you found back to us at the address below easily resolves this matter. Once we have received the materials all matter concerning copyright infringement will be dropped. I understand that this situation may be odd since it was a turn a fate that brought the books to you
and that you never attended to do anything that would be considered illegal. I thank you for cooperating with us and hope this matter can be resolved as soon a possible."

Looks like the first letter was a scare tactic to enforce the copyright on their own students.

I still don't think i'm obligated to send the books back.

To my understanding, I'm the legal owner of these books.

Please advise...


Senior Member
Whether you are the 'legal' owner of these books or not is NOT the real problem here. The 'school' certainly could make a valid argument that they retain the ownership of the materials. That does not mean that they would win that argument, but they can make that claim nonetheless.

And it certainly sounds like they are serious about exercising this claim.

Now, the issue becomes are you willing to take the risk (both financial and emotional) of a potential lawsuit and legal challenge so that you can retain ownership of the 'found' property?? And even further (presumably) to try to show that you would have a right to sell them.

I would suggest that you put your ego aside a little bit and negotiate them paying for the return of the books.


you are correct...

I totally feel the same way. It's not worth the trouble. But I'm also wondering if they even have the right to make such a request.

I have some time to kill before I give in and spend the $20 bucks in shipping. I find this "case" pretty interesting and have done some research...

"Doctrine of first sale" and the Sebastian v. Long's case indicates that I should have the upperhand right to do what I want with the books.

Also even though the author may dictate where the books may be used or sold, it doesn't mean it's enforceable by law.

With that all said I still think the right move is just to send the books back but It's much easier to just throw them in the trash!!


Senior Member
Did you READ my full post??
"I would suggest that you put your ego aside a little bit and negotiate them paying for the return of the books."

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