In the case of John Wiley & Sons, Inc. v. Supap Kirtsaeng, the court has held that the “First Sale” doctrine in copyright law – which allows libraries to lend books and consumers to resell the books they buy – applies only to works that were manufactured in the United States. In an earlier case (Costco v. Omega, which was affirmed by an evenly divided Supreme Court) the Ninth Circuit had ruled that first sale did not apply if a work was manufactured and sold abroad, but the Second Circuit went much further. In last week’s ruling they decided that first sale did not apply even when the work manufactured abroad was sold in the U.S. with the authorization of the copyright holder. Thus they have created the anomalous situation where a rights holder enjoys the full protection of U.S. law, but consumers who buy the work do not have the advantage of a basic rule for their protection.

Getting first sale wrong | Kevin Smith, Scholarly Communications Officer at Duke University
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