Supreme Court decides that books purchased overseas can be sold in USA, with far reaching consequences

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Supreme Court decides that books purchased overseas can be sold in USA, with far reaching consequences

Mar 19 2013

The Supreme Court have ruled 6-3 that the "first sale doctrine" applies to books purchased overseas. Specifically, the court decided that Supap Kirtsaeng (who is being sued by textbook publisher Wiley) did not violate copyright when he purchased textbooks overseas to sell to friends and families in the USA.

The American Library Association applauds the decision saying:

It vindicates the foundational principle of the first sale doctrine—if you bought it, you own it. All who believe in that principle, and the certainty it provides to libraries and many other parts of our culture and economy, should join us in applauding the Court for correcting the legal ambiguity that led to this case in the first place. It is especially gratifying that Justice Breyer’s majority opinion focused on the considerable harm that the Second Circuit’s opinion would have caused libraries.

However, the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) see a grim future as outlined in their official statement:

The ruling for Kirtsaeng will send a tremor through the publishing industries, harming both U.S. businesses and consumers around the world. Today’s decision will create a strong disincentive for publishers to market different versions and sell copies at different prices in different regions. The practical result may very well be that consumers and students abroad will see dramatic price increases or entirely lose their access to valuable U.S. resources created specifically for them … American publishers will face direct harm, because our markets will be open to a flood of copyrighted material that was intended for purchase overseas. By exploiting pricing models that are meant for students in undeveloped nations, importers both deny those students a full education, and threaten American publishers’ ability to do business abroad.

Source: Galley Cat

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