Finally, A Good Decision!

Posted: March 21, 2013 in Uncategorized
MARCH 19, 2013 | BY CORYNNE MCSHERRY AND PARKER HIGGINS

You Bought It, You Own It: Supreme Court Victory for Common Sense and Owners’ Rights

In a long-anticipated decision, the Supreme Court held today that the first sale doctrine applies to works made outside of the United States. In other words, if you bought it, you own it—no matter where it was manufactured. That’s a major victory for consumers, and also libraries, used bookstores, and all kinds of groups that depend on the right to lend or resell the goods they’ve legally purchased.

This case, Kirtsaeng v. Wiley, specifically concerned the re-sale of textbooks in the U.S. The first sale doctrine, described in section 109 of the U.S. Copyright Act, gives people the right to resell, lend, or give away the works that they’ve bought, even if those works contain copyrighted elements. Textbook publisher Wiley claimed that this doctrine only applies to goods that are manufactured in the U.S., and that the defendant, Supap Kirtsaeng, was infringing its copyright by purchasing books at a reduced rate in his native Thailand and selling them below list price in the States.

In other words, under Wiley’s interpretation, copyright owners that are crafty enough to outsource the actual manufacture of their works abroad could control the secondary market for copies of works that were manufactured abroad for the entire copyright term.

The Supreme Court firmly rejected that notion, which it called the “geographical interpretation.” Your right to resell, lend, or give away the works that you buy does not depend on whether you happen to buy them in the US, or in Amsterdam or anywhere else. Rather, it simply depends on whether the copyright owner authorized the manufacture of the copy.

(Read the full article with links to court briefs here)

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