This fall, apects of the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act were reviewed by the Copyright Office. One line of inquiry examined the applicability of the "first sale" doctrine contained in section 109 of the Act to works transmitted digitally. Here’s what the Copyright Office found: The first sale doctrine is primarily a limitation on the copyright owner’s exclusive right of distribution. It does not limit the exclusive right of reproduction. While disposition of a work downloaded to a floppy disk would only implicate the distribution right, the transmission of a work from one person to another over the Internet results in a reproduction on the recipient’s computer, even if the sender subsequently deletes the original copy of the work. This activity therefore entails an exercise of an exclusive right that is not covered by section 109. Proponents of expansion of the scope of section 109 to include the transmission and deletion of a digital file argue that this activity is essentially identical to the transfer of a physical copy and that the similarities outweigh the differences. While it is true that there are similarities, we find the analogy to the physical world to be flawed and unconvincing. Physical copies degrade with time and use; digital information does not. Works in digital format can be reproduced flawlessly, and disseminated to nearly any point on the globe instantly and at negligible cost. Digital transmissions can adversely effect the market for the original to a much greater degree than transfers of physical copies. Additionally, unless a "forward-and-delete" technology is employed to automatically delete the sender’s copy, the deletion of a work requires an additional affirmative act on the part of the sender subsequent to the transmission... it is not clear that the market will bear the cost of an expensive technological measure. The underlying policy of the first sale doctrine as adopted by the courts was to give effect to the common law rule against restraints on the alienation of tangible property. The tangible nature of a copy is a defining element of the first sale doctrine and critical to its rationale. The digital transmission of a work does not implicate the alienability of a physical artifact. When a work is transmitted, the sender is exercising control over the intangible work through its reproduction rather than common law dominion over an item of tangible personal property. Unlike the physical distribution of digital works on a tangible medium, such as a floppy disk, the transmission of works interferes with the copyright owner’s control over the intangible work and the exclusive right of reproduction. The benefits to further expansion simply do not outweigh the likelihood of increased harm. Digital communications technology enables authors and publishers to develop new business models, with a more flexible array of products that can be tailored and priced to meet the needs of different consumers. We are concerned that these proposals for a digital first sale doctrine endeavor to fit the exploitation of works online into a distribution model - the sale of copies - that was developed within the confines of pre-digital technology. If the sale model is to continue as the dominant method of distribution, it should be the choice of the market, not due to legislative fiat. No change for first sale doctrine We recommend no change to section 109 at this time. Although speculative concerns have been raised, there was no convincing evidence of present-day problems. In order to recommend a change in the law, there should be a demonstrated need for the change that outweighs the negative aspects of the proposal. The Copyright Office does not believe that this is the case with the proposal to expand the scope of section 109 to include digital transmissions. The time may come when Congress may wish to address these concerns should they materialize.