I live in the Netherlands and I received a book I ordered from a company in the US. The package I received today had an invoice included. The invoice had the following text printed on it:

These items are controlled by the U.S. government and authorized for export only to the country of ultimate destination for use by the ultimate consignee or end-user(s) herein identified. They may not be resold, transferred, or otherwise disposed of, to any other country or to any person other than the authorized ultimate consignee or end-user(s), either in their original form or after being incorporated into other items, without first obtaining approval from the U.S. government or as otherwise authorized by U.S. law and regulations.

It is obvious that I need approval from US authorities to give my book to a friend in living in Belgium and probably also to give my book to a friend in the Netherlands. How do I get approval?


There is something wrong-sounding about that claim. Owning a thing (such as a book) means that you can dispose of it however you want. If it is a physical book, then unless this is a book of top secret classified information, the US government has no control over the item, nor does the copyright holder have any right to prevent you from giving away your copy. Electronic books, however, are another matter, since often you don't buy such books, you buy a license to use the book (like a software license). The license terms of an electronic book could be subject to various controls, and the license might be non-transferable. The underlying logic of this is that under the doctrine of first sale, you are allowed to do whatever you want with intellectual property that you buy, and therefore to restrict re-distribution of electronic IP, software especially is typically not itself sold, and just the permission to use it is.

If this is an electronic book, the copyright holder would be able (though not necessarily willing) to permit you to transfer your copy to someone else. Of course you can't give a copy to two people unless you have two licenses.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.