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17 USC 117 gives guidelines for the owner of a copy of a computer program. There has been much debate over who is considered to be an owner. 17 USC 202 states that there is a distinction between ownership of a copyrighted object and ownership of the "material object in which the work in embodied." For example, ownership of a compact disc does not include ownership of the recording contained in the compact disc, which is itself distinct from the musical work which is recorded.

License agreements generally override any statutory language, including the first sale and fair use doctrines.

Further, as Nimmer on Copyright [8.08[B][1], 8-126] states, "Copyright ownership is governed by federal law, whereas tangible ownership arises presumably under state law." The subject of "tangible," or material ownership, falls under guidelines outlined under the Uniform Commercial Code, and is also addressed by the proposed UCITA.

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