Last week I published a post on the lawsuit challenging the “first-sale” doctrine in the context of digital files. On Tuesday the Supreme Court issued a decision holding that the first-sale doctrine applies to copies of copyrighted works lawfully made abroad.
To understand the facts of this case picture this scenario.
You are a student in Thailand, and you use English-language textbooks in your studies there. You see that the textbooks are not pirated copies—they are legal copies, authorized for foreign publication. When you come to the United States to continue your education you see the same textbooks are sold at much higher prices. Why not get ahold of some of the books being sold in Thailand and sell them at below-U.S. prices but above Thailand prices? There is money to be made there!
Math student Supap Kirtsaeng recognized this arbitrage opportunity. He asked his family in Thailand to buy copies of foreign edition English language textbooks at Thai book shops and ship them to him in the U.S.… Read the full article “Supreme Court First-Sale Ruling Favors Gray Market Importers of Copyrighted Works, But Is Likely Only One Round in an Ongoing Battle Over the Right to Exclude Imported Works”