Posts made in January, 2013

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Importing Copyrighted Works, Kirtsaeng v. Wiley and Your Rights to Your Property

Posted by on Jan 30, 2013 in Copyright

The Supreme Court has recently heard arguments in the case of Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons. The opinion is expected soon, and regardless of how the court rules, it will have a large impact on intellectual property law. This case deals with a Thai national who was subsidizing his college tuition in the U.S. by having his relatives in Thailand buy textbooks for cheap, shipping them to him in the US, and then selling the text books to Americans on sites such as eBay. He made about a $100,000 profit off this enterprise. Eventually, the publisher caught wind, and sued. This enterprise is known as the “grey market”. Exploiting the price differential between the US and overseas can be quite profitable. The legality of this practice differs depending on the type of good being sold. At trial, and on appeal to the 2nd Circuit, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. v. Kirtsaeng, 654 F.3d 210, (2d Cir. 2011), Kirtsaeng argued that the ‘first sale doctrine’ makes his actions legal. The “first sale doctrine” in copyright law permits the owner of a lawfully purchased copy of a copyrighted work to resell it. Once you buy a copy of something, you own that copy. You can do as you wish with...

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