The Electronic Frontier Foundation very clearly explains what is at stake in Vernor vs. Autodesk:
Under the first sale doctrine, once a copyright owner sells or gives you a copy of her work, she gives up control of that particular copy. You buy it, you own it. This principle is extraordinarily important for consumers, as it makes it legal for you to resell, lend, or give away the books, CDs, DVDs, and software that you purchase.
Many copyright owners don’t like these limits; they’d rather be able to completely control the market for their products, including any secondary markets. Thus, in an effort to duck the first sale doctrine, companies increasingly claim that they are "licensing" products to consumers, instead of selling them.
The story so far:
1. Tim Vernor buy copies of AutoCAD at a garage sale, and lists them for resale on eBay.
2. Autodesk gets eBay to shut down his sales.
3. He sues Autodesk, and lawyers from Public Citizen pitch in to help him out.
4. District court of Seattle agrees with Vernor.
5. Autodesk appeals to 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and wins.
So today the EFF announces that a coalition of public interest, consumer, and library groups are appealing to the US Supreme Court to overturn the appeals court decision.