In a victory for libraries and consumers, the U.S. Supreme Court today issued a 6-3 opinion in favor of petitioner Supap Kirtsaeng, a Thai student who resold textbooks lawfully purchased by his family at bookstores in Thailand. AALL’s Copyright Committee chair Tracy Thompson-Przylucki wrote on the Copyright Committee blog:
In its opinion in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., a decision released today, the U.S. Supreme Court has determined that the first sale doctrine is not subject to any geographical limitations (Justice Ginsburg dissents). The Court’s decision means that purchasers of works produced outside of the U.S., if the works are lawfully subject to U.S. Copyright protections, are entitled to invoke the first sale doctrine to justify their subsequent sale, lease or loan of those works. This is an important victory not just for consumers like Kirtsaeng, but for libraries and library users.
ORI is gratified by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in favor of Supap Kirtsaeng in this important copyright case. This decision is a landmark win for consumers, small businesses, online marketplaces, retailers and libraries nationwide and an affirmation of the ORI motto, ‘you bought it, you own it.’ This decision definitively affirms the first sale doctrine, cementing the right of consumers and organizations to sell, lend and give away goods that they bought and own, regardless of where those goods were made.
While we are energized by this decision, we expect that some will continue attempts to eliminate owners’ rights, reduce competition in the marketplace and restrict the global trade of authentic goods. ORI will continue to be vigilant and diligent in protecting owners’ rights now and in the future and we expect policymakers to do the same.
For more information about the case, please see AALL’s issue brief by Amy Ash, member of the Copyright Committee and George H. Pike, 2011-2012 chair of the Committee. AALL submitted an amicus brief in support of Kirtsaeng with Public Knowledge, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Special Libraries Association, and U.S. PIRG.