U.S. Supreme Court To Hear First-Sale Doctrine in Copyright Law Case


Tucked into the U.S. Supreme Court’s busy agenda this fall is a little-known case that could upend your ability to resell everything from your grandmother’s antique furniture to your iPhone 4.

At issue in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons is the first-sale doctrine in copyright law, which allows you to buy and then sell things like electronics, books, artwork and furniture as well as CDs and DVDs, without getting permission from the copyright holder of those products.


According to the SCOTUS website at: the Issue at argument is: http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/kirtsaeng-v-john-wiley-sons-inc/
Issue: How do Section 602(a)(1) of the Copyright Act, which prohibits the importation of a work without the authority of the copyright’s owner, and Section 109(a) of the Copyright Act, which allows the owner of a copy “lawfully made under this title” to sell or otherwise dispose of the copy without the copyright owner’s permission, apply to a copy that was made and legally acquired abroad and then imported into the United States?

Doesn't sound to me like my grandma's antique anything is even at question, let alone at risk. Also seems like some people are over reacting to this case to try to create their own issues with copyright law just because a publisher is involved. I suggest librarians not worry about Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. or the Supreme Court on this matter.

This case concerns the meaning of the phrase
“lawfully made under this title” in Section 109(a). The
Second Circuit ruled that “lawfully made under this
title” means lawfully manufactured in the United
States. But many of the materials in the collections of
U.S. libraries were manufactured overseas. Indeed,
U.S. publishers now print an increasing number of
books in China and other countries with lower labor
costs. Thus, an affirmance of the decision below could
jeopardize the ability of libraries to lend a substantial
part of their collection to the public. In other words,
how this Court interprets the phrase “lawfully made
under this title” could determine the extent to which
libraries can continue to perform their historic function
of lending books and other materials to the
public. Amici library associations respectfully request
the Court to reject the Second Circuit’s interpretation,
and instead hold that copies “lawfully made
under this title” means “copies manufactured with
the lawful authorization of the holder of a work’s U.S.
reproduction and distribution rights.”

The First Sales Doctrine as outlined by the facts here really doesn't seem to make it seem that grandmas antiques are at risk. http://www.legaladvice.com/articles/details/First_Sales_Doctrine . The facts of the case is a textbook manufacturer. What is ironic about this case is that big global business now seem to be at each others throats when their profit margins are threatened but they don't seem to care when they shove globalism down the throats of the rest of the consuming world.

People moan about globalization until they realise that if things were made in their own country they would cost several times as much to buy the products they still can't do without if indeed they could be made atall.
Occupy or Anti-Globalization groups still seem to love using modern technology afterall. If they cost $1000 instead of $300 then they'd be going on about how big business is stopping the small guy getting their products but not realise why things can be made and shipped from abroad so cheaply.

I think one of the issues is the changes over time of the intellectual property/design and a physical product. In the UK we invent and design a huge number of things. But it's all made abroad. But if it starts off here is it a product of the UK or abroad or both?
We had a lot of problems with things made for the Olympics. Designed by UK companies but made in China. But the money went to UK companies so the UK economy benefitted, but then so did the Chinese.

Grandma's antiques are not at risk, but Grandma's itunes library is :P

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