Supreme Court Rules That First Sale Doctrine Not Limited by Geography

Broadcasting Cable reports that the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned a Second Circuit ruling on a First Sale Doctrine case that could expand its protections beyond U.S. borders. The court ruled that the Second Circuit court erred when it ruled that First Sale Doctrine did not apply to work legally made abroad and imported into the United States.

The ruling was for Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons. In the case Supap Kirtsaeng, a Thai-born U.S. student, was accused by book publisher John Wiley & Son violated copyright laws when he imported and resold books in the U.S. The cheaper copies of the Wiley textbooks were manufactured for sale abroad. The Second Circuit agreed with the publisher and rejected Kirtsaeng's First Sale Doctrine defense.

In 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court concluded that the First Sale Doctrine has no geographical limitation – even on copies made abroad with the copyright holder's permission.

The MPAA sided with the book publisher, while rights group Public Knowledge filed on behalf of Kirtsaeng.

Public Knowledge was pleased with the outcome.

"We are glad that the Supreme Court recognized and prevented the harm that could have been done by the decision of the lower court," the group said in a statement. "The fact that these arguments made it to the Supreme Court is unsettling. We were almost in a situation where anyone that held a garage sale or loaned a book to a friend could be in violation of copyright law. We believe that this is evidence that a larger conversation about copyright reform is in order, to restore the balance of the law between the interests of authors, copyright holders, and the public."

The MPAA was not:

"We believe [Tuesday]'s Supreme Court decision will hinder American businesses' ability to compete overseas to the detriment of the long-term economic interests of the United States," said MPAA in a statement, "and particularly its creative industries. We plan to study the decision further before determining the most appropriate action for us to take."

Source: Broadcating Cable by way of PHX Corp.


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