Document Type



The first sale doctrine has been essential to the balance in copyright law between authors' rights and public access to works. The growth of digital technology, however, has drastically changed the means of disseminating many types of works and, as a result, has undermined the first sale doctrine. This Article considers the long-term impact of technological change on the first sale doctrine. The Article focuses on the affordability and availability effects of the doctrine. reviewing the traditional causes and benefits of these effects, as well as the ways in which electronic commerce has weakened and could continue to weaken them. The Article concludes that it is still too early to determine the ultimate impact of digital technology on affordability and availability but suggests means of preserving these effects even as the first sale doctrine itself faces increasing technological challenge.