- Major textbook publisher John Wiley sued Supap Kirtsaeng, a Thai national, for importing and reselling foreign-made copies of the publisher's textbooks, which cost less abroad and allowed Kirtsaeng, a graduate student in the U.S. at the time, to turn a profit.
- In a 6 to 3 ruling in the case of Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons Tuesday, the Supreme Court sided with Kirtsaeng, saying that first-sale doctrine protects the buyers of copyrighted works even if they were published outside of the U.S.
- The decision was celebrated as "a total victory" by libraries and others who share or resell copyrighted products, who made the case that limiting first-sale doctrine by geography could cause them serious harm, though publishers said the ruling would create "significant ramifications" for the works' creators and discourage global trade.
From the article:
... Justice Breyer noted "the practices of booksellers, libraries, museums, and retailers," who have long relied on first-sale protections. "The fact that harm has proved limited so far may simply reflect the reluctance of copyright holders to assert geographically based resale rights," he wrote.
The "practical problems" laid out by Mr. Kirtsaeng and the groups that filed supporting briefs on his behalf "are too serious, extensive, and likely to come about to be dismissed as insignificant—particularly in light of the ever-growing importance of foreign trade to America," the justice concluded. ...