The Supreme Court has not yet published its opinion in the Wiley v. Kirtsaeng case and now stands adjourned until February 19, 2013. The opinion is expected any time before the Court recesses in June. This critically important case will determine whether U.S. consumers are free to purchase, without restriction, copyrighted products that may have been manufactured outside of the United States.
The facts of the case are relatively simple: Supap Kirtsaeng, a college student living in the United States, had textbooks he needed for school sent to him from overseas. When he no longer needed those books, he sold them on eBay. The U.S. publisher/copyright owner, John Wiley & Sons, then sued Kirtsaeng for copyright infringement because Wiley & Sons had not authorized sale of the foreign-manufactured books in the United States.
Kirtsaeng defended his right to resell the used textooks on eBay relying upon Section 109(a) of the U.S. Copyright Act which is commonly referred to as the First Sale Doctrine. The First Sale Doctrine provides that the rightful owner of a lawfully made product has the right to do whatever he/she wants to do with that product.
The lower courts in this case have held that the First Sale Doctrine only applies to products that are manufactured in the United States. In connection with all other goods, the U.S. copyright owner must first give permission before even the lawful owner of the article is permitted to resell it, lend it or perhaps even give it away.
AFTA believes that the First Sale Doctrine applies to all lawfully purchased consumer goods that were manufactured anywhere in the world by or under authority of the U.S. copyright owner. Moreover, AFTA continues to support the work of the Owners Rights Initiative (www.ownersrightsinitiative.org) , which is a diverse coalition of companies, individuals and associations, all of whom are concerned with the potentially devastating impact of a Supreme Court decision in favor of the publisher.
AFTA will immediately post notice of the Supreme Court decision as soon as it is published. In the meantime, if you would like to learn more about why the Kirtsaeng case is so important to ORI members click here to watch a special video: http://youtu.be/puL8hP5onuU