Page 1 of 1

Will US publishing move off-shore?

Posted: September 8th, 2011, 7:35 pm
by Doug Pardee
On August 15th, the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals (NY, VT, CT) ruled that books that are printed outside of the US are not covered by the First Sale doctrine — 17 USC 109(a). Those books cannot be resold, lent, or otherwise transferred without the authorization of the rights-holder. The case in question is John Wiley & Sons Inc. v. Supap Kirtsaeng.

So, as of a few weeks ago, it's no longer legal for libraries in those three states to lend out books (or other copyrighted material) produced outside of the US, unless they get approval of the rights-holder. It's also no longer legal for used-book stores in those states to sell such books without approval.

Along with this comes a worrisome possibility: US publishers might start moving their printing operations to facilities outside of the US specifically to block the resale and lending of the books. Judge J. Garvan Murtha, in his dissent on the court's ruling, noted that it was possible that this ruling...
would provide greater copyright protection to copies manufactured abroad than those manufactured domestically: Once a domestic copy has been sold, no matter where the sale occurred, the copyright holder's right to control its distribution is exhausted. I do not believe Congress intended to provide an incentive for U.S. copyright holders to manufacture copies of their work abroad.

Supreme Court rules First Sale still applies to foreign work

Posted: March 19th, 2013, 6:07 pm
by Doug Pardee
The Supreme Court of the United States has reviewed the above-mentioned case, and has decided 6-3 that the First Sale doctrine still applies to foreign-made books (and other copyrighted works) as long as the copies were lawfully made. SCOTUS overturned the Second Circuit's decision and found in favor of Mr. Kirtsaeng.

This is a big relief for most folks. It'll complicate the lives of some publishers, though.