** Please note change of venue for this seminar (Vernon Hartcourt Room, St Hilda's College. Please report to Porter's lodge on arrival for directions. Sandwich lunch provided.

The exhaustion of the right of distribution is a century old doctrine of copyright law (known as first sale doctrine in the United States). It has developed gradually to cover the resale of lawfully sold copies of works and other subject matter, and to exclude service type dissemination of those contents. The emergence and rapid spread of digital technologies, especially the internet, hasn’t left untouched this area. It was only a question of time when courts needed to decide on the transferability of copies sold originally in digital format. Among them the ECJ’s UsedSoft ruling in the European Union and the ReDigi trial court decision are the most famous (or notorious). These are, however, not the only ones. Since 2012, when UsedSoft was published, the number of cases related to “digital exhaustion” has grown rapidly. In fact, two main approaches can be followed when discussing digital exhaustion. The traditional positivist approach sticks to the status quo envisaged by the international and the European copyright norms. The constructive realist approach stresses that copyright law and property law in general must develop in light of the social and economic changes. The digital society inherently endangers the doctrine of exhaustion as the concept of ownership seems to be inapplicable to intangible copies of protected subject matter. This approach notes that both copyright and property law can and should adapt to social realities and they should apply to digital copies, too. The presentation collects those arguments that evidence the viability of a digital exhaustion doctrine.

Péter Mezei is an Associate Professor at the University of Szeged (Hungary) and dosentti of the University of Turku (Finland). His research is mainly devoted to European, international, comparative and digital copyright issues. View here for information  on his forthcoming book.


Each year the OIPRC hosts a number of leading academics from around the world as part of its Invited Speaker Series. These events typically run from 5:15-6:45pm on Thursday evenings at St. Peter’s College; if the venue or time is different, it will be noted on the Events calendar.  The Speaker Series consists of a presentation of about 45 minutes, followed by a Q&A session with the assembled group of academic staff, students (both undergraduate and graduate), researchers, and interested members of the public.  Discussion is informal and includes participants from several disciplines, with a wide range of prior knowledge.

Convenors: Dev Gangjee and Robert Pitkethly

Refreshments and snacks are served at the conclusion of the discussion.  All are welcome.