Supreme Court of the United States
Supap KIRTSAENG, dba Bluechristine99, Petitioner
JOHN WILEY & SONS, INC.
Argued Oct. 29, 2012.
Decided March 19, 2013.
Student from Thailand by the name Supap Kirtsaeng who arrived in the United States in 1997 to attend Cornell University discovered that the same textbooks that he was buying inside the US were sold cheaper in his home country. Supap have decided to start a side business by reselling foreign edition text books in the US and use the resulting profit to support his tuition and living expenses. Supap’s family and friends have shipped him books that he sold through ebay and made around $1.2 million in revenue. In 2008, John Wilet & Sons, Inc, files suit against Supap for copyright infringement and won in two lower courts plus The Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ban on importation of copyrighted works without the authority of the U.S. copyright owner. Kirtseeng had appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing the first-sale doctrine. a clause in the United States copyright which enables residents of the United States to resell legally obtained objects without asking for the copyright owner's permission on the secondary sales. The doctrine permits only a buyer’s distribution right and not the power to reproduce a book or DVD or any other copyright protected property. Essentially this doctrine allows function of the secondary markets like flea markets and online resellers like Craigslist and eBay plus ensures legality of library lending, gift giving and rentals of a wide range of intellectual property.
The legal Issue
The publisher John Wilet & Sons had a clear declaimer on all books printed overseas: "This book is authorized for sale in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East only and may not be exported. Exportation from or importation of this book to another region without the publisher's authorization is illegal." Attorneys hires by the publisher made an argument...
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