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Supreme Court announces decision in Kirtsaeng v. Wiley

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The library world has been watching the case of Kirsaeng v. Wiley very closely because it concerns a doctrine of copyright that libraries rely on to do the work we do – first sale.  First sale doctrine is the part of copyright law that, essentially, separates the “copy” from the “copyright”.  That is, if you buy a copy of a book (or DVD or any other copyrighted work) you own that physical copy and can do with it what you will – resell it, loan it (like libraries do!), destroy it.  In the Kirtsaeng case, a student’s family was purchasing the less-expensive foreign editions of textbooks and the student, Supap Kirtsaeng, was reselling the books in the U.S. for a profit.  In its suit, the textbook publisher, Wiley, argued that Kirtsaeng did not have the right to sell those foreign-made copies of the books. The Court’s decision (PDF) upholds the First Sale doctrine that allows libraries to lend books and other materials!

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