On October 29, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
, a conflict about “first-sale doctrine”
. The doctrine, which has been law in the U.S. since 1908, allows people to buy and then subsequently sell items (books, furniture, electronics, dvds, etc.) without needing additional permission from the copyright holder.
Supap Kirtsaeng came to the United States from Thailand to study mathematics and attempted to save money by having his family purchase textbooks in Thailand and ship them to him. After reading up on the first-sale doctrine, Kirtsaeng began to sell these textbooks to others on eBay. He made $37,000, before he was sued by John Wiley, a textbook publisher. A jury found his copyright infringement to be willful. He was ordered to pay $75,000 per work for a total penalty of $600,000. He appealed, and lost at the 2nd Circuit.
The Library Journal notes that if the Supreme Court rules against Kirtsaeng, it could mean the end of public libraries
. Marketwatch warns that it means the end of resale as we know it
. Hollywood Esq. does the most cogent job of putting this IP fight in perspective of other IP fights
before the Court.
A very bad day for libraries: Today's Supreme Court deadlock casts Doctrine of First Sale into doubt for products made abroad.
The Supreme Court today deadlocked on the question of whether Costco committed copyright infringement by selling Omega watches produced and purchased overseas. In effect, this deadlock upholds the 9th Circuit appeals court ruling that the First Sale doctrine does not apply to products produced outside the United States. Thinking of selling, lending, or transferring ownership of something originally produced overseas -- like, say, a book? This ruling calls the legality of such sales into question. [more inside]