Remember the enterprising Thai-born, U.S. college student who made a bundle and helped pay for his tuition by selling textbooks that his friends and family had bought abroad and shipped to him? Today, the case of Supap Kirtsaeng has resulted in a 6-3 landmark Supreme Court ruling. Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons holds that legally acquired copyrighted works can be resold by their owners, and it does apply to works made overseas. So, for instance, textbooks that are produced and sold abroad can be re-sold online. The case involves Section 109 of U.S. Copyright Act, 0r “first sale doctrine,” which limits the distribution rights of a copyright owner and allows the owner of a lawfully-made copy of a copyrighted work to sell or loan the copy without permission from the copyright holder.

For more details, see reports from the Huffington Post, Publishers Weekly and the patent law blog Patently O.

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