Books with Licensing Contract on shrink wrap

Paul Deane writes "This year I have been recieving reference books with a license on shrink wrap. They have the same general message as most software does these days. Do not open unless you agree to the terms of the license.... The terms are not included. I would guess this is effort by publishers to extend rights to materials beyond copyright by claiming that material is licensed and anything they don't like is a contract violation even though it is ok under copywrite. Can they get away with this?"


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Can they get away with this?

Info World Had An Article a couple years ago. says a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit decision allows shrink-wrap license agreements to ban reverse engineering of software products.The panel in essence held that by using a shrink-wrap license, a publisher could require users to waive all their privileges under the Copyright Act," Lemley wrote. "Such a result would remake copyright law as we know it."More Stuff Out There.So, can they get away with this? Apparently.

You should also check out

On a software shrinkwrap case; 7/4850

And believe it or not, has a decent answer for once;

Can they get away with it?

Yes. In the same way that something floats until it can be made to sink.

A better question might be, "Should we let them get away with it?"
With the bonus follow-up being "What should we do to not let them get away with it?" (It being perhaps obvious that the thing to do to let them get away with it is nothing.


Books with Licensing Contract on shrink wrap

The law of contract as it relates to shrinkwrap, etc., is not straightforward, but at minimum you have to be able to see the terms of the agreement before you "agree" to them, so if, as you say, the terms were not visible, I doubt that an enforceable contract has been formed (but IANAL).The CNI-Copyright list ( has discussed the enforceability of shrinkwrap from time to time, so you might want to post an inquiry there or search their archive.

1st Sale Doctrine

#1 It's copyright, not copywrite.#2 Most of these posters have missed the fact that you're discussing books, and not software. First Sale doctrine *should* apply, but we are living in a world where the laws are being re-written all the time to encroach on the public's property - since there is no 'public' that works to defend them...-- Ender, Duke_of_URL

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