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I was surprised, but glad to see this ruling:

Supreme Court says copyright law does not protect publishers in discount re-sales
The justices, in a 6-3 vote Tuesday, threw out a copyright infringement award to publisher John Wiley & Sons. Thai graduate student Supap Kirtsaeng used eBay to resell copies of the publisher’s copyrighted books that his relatives first bought abroad at cut-rate prices.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Wow. Great decision. (9+ / 0-)

    This case was worrying.  It will be interesting to read the reasoning of whoever voted against (Alito, Thomas and Scalia?) because in what world are protecting property rights not conservative?  

    A wrong decision here could have really farked us up - it would have meant, basically, that all items we buy (CDs, DVDs, books) are "leased" and not owned, and that all sorts of re-sale restrictions could be put in place (i.e. you can't sell used CDs)- imagine THAT world.

    •  A world in which the conservative ideology... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JamieG from Md, irishwitch
      because in what world are protecting property rights not conservative?

      ... has been twisted and manipulated to the point where it's no longer recognizable.

      The trouble on the horizon for the party is: even steel loses it's usefulness once it's pounded too many times on the anvil.

      RREEIINNCCEE was right when he said his new report was an "autopsy."

      He's prognosticating.

      "That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history." ~ Aldous Huxley

      by markthshark on Tue Mar 19, 2013 at 09:41:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  not true at all (0+ / 0-)

      fair use is codified by statute, the question is whether that trumps a statute saying no importation of copyrighted works without the holder's consent.  there's no equivalent w/r/t sales in the U.S., in fact, the opposite.

      Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

      by Loge on Tue Mar 19, 2013 at 10:23:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If i buy something (5+ / 0-)

        I should own it and be able to do what I want with it, including sell it.


        •  That is the law, yes. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          If, however, you live in Thailand, and buy something, whether or not you can sell it to someone in the U.S. depends on the application of a statute that the lower court interpreted to mean you can't.  That statute would have no bearing on first sale issues within the United States, by its own terms.  It also doesn't apply to sales of lawfully acquired works outside the U.S., as of this morning, but that's not an obvious question.  (Unlawfully copied works can still, presumably be excluded from importation.)

          Whether that should be the law is a separate question.  Basically, Thai students will probably start paying more for textbooks to reduce arbitrage incentives.  Whether it's "fair' is absolutely irrelevant to the Court's decision.  The only question was who was Congress trying to protect by drafting the statutes the way they did and how to make the best use of that.  Unless the ban on reimportation was unconstitutional (which it's not), the Court is not supposed to second guess policy judgments.  
          I wonder if the Court kicked a hornet's nest -- puts the first sale statute right in the cross-hairs.  What should or should not be the case is secondary to how different parts of a statute actually fit together.  The dissent's view makes more sense, from a legal matter, and I don't think the costs or benefits matter all that much, since prices will just adjust.

          To the extent it matters, I'd favor a copyright regime with shorter durations but stronger protections than we have now, and an opt-in system (registration, formalities) rather than opt-out (commons licenses).  These were not the questions before the Court.

          Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

          by Loge on Tue Mar 19, 2013 at 11:07:03 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Actually (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Anthony de Jesus, aargh

      the minority was Ginsburg, Scalia, and Kennedy.  But I guess it would have been too difficult to read the link, eh?

      "Well, I'm sure I'd feel much worse if I weren't under such heavy sedation..."--David St. Hubbins

      by Old Left Good Left on Tue Mar 19, 2013 at 11:47:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good! This is the most important case of the year. (6+ / 0-)

    (so far, Aside from the voting cases) this validates private property. If you own something, and it's not alive, cute and cuddley, you can do what you damn well please with it.

    If you sell something, you don't own it anymore.

  •  The real solution to textbook prices is (8+ / 0-)

    Open Educational Resources under Creative Commons licenses. Did you know that a computer for a college student costs less than that student's printed textbooks? See, for example, the California Free Digital Textbook Initiative.

    In the meantime, I will take any help we can get against the highway robbers at the commercial textbook publishers.

    Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

    by Mokurai on Tue Mar 19, 2013 at 07:51:40 AM PDT

  •  Try to tell this to Big Pharma: (7+ / 0-)
    Justice Stephen Breyer said in his opinion for the court that the publisher lost any ability to control what happens to its books after their first sale abroad.
    Wiley and Sons could have got what they wanted---perpetual rentier status---if they had only bought Congress like smart corporatists do.
  •  Thanks for picking up on this. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JamieG from Md, aargh

    The highest form of spiritual practice is self observation with compassion.

    by NCJim on Tue Mar 19, 2013 at 07:55:29 AM PDT

  •  Case was about two conflicting statutes (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    trumpeter, pico, LilithGardener

    You have the right to dispose of a lawfully acquired copy of a copyrighted work (fair use), but there's also a prohibition on importing copies of copyrighted works without consent.  The action is over whether the fair use statute protects  copies made outside the U.S., and so it's a lawful copy to be reimported, versus having protection by the copyright laws of the country where the sale occurred.  The copyright holders have the better case, linguistically (at least per the SG amicus - a good a place to get a legal summary as any), and I'm not sure of the policy implications one way or the other. I can see  that it would drive down prices in the short-run, but not over time, and it would be less likely that anyone discounts textbooks abroad.  In any event, the statute will probably be rewritten to embrace Ginsburg's dissent.  

    Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

    by Loge on Tue Mar 19, 2013 at 07:59:34 AM PDT

    •  i mean first sale, not fair use. n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

      by Loge on Tue Mar 19, 2013 at 10:43:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  No. When someone is wrong, someone is wrong. (0+ / 0-)

      and in this case, Ginsburg is wrong. Banning importation of books violates the first amendment.

      •  You obviously haven't read the decision (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Copyright is mainly a creation of statute, and if there were infringement, there's no broad Constitutional right to sell someone else's IP.  The scope of the statutory one was what the Court addressed.  

        Even indulging you, this is a content and viewpoint neutral regulation of unprotected speech.  The government's burden would be met in a First Amendment challenge, which none of the parties brought.  The only thing the Court decided was that Congress said first sale trumps a codified protection of geographic price discrimination, which will I imagine come as news to Congress.  What the law should be is likely irrelevant to the Court's decision making process.  Yay, foreigners get to pay more for textbooks.  I only care insofar as there's basic ignorance of black letter law on display.

        Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

        by Loge on Tue Mar 19, 2013 at 05:41:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Court was all over the place on this one (5+ / 0-)

    When I read this diary, my first thought was "I can't believe there are three justices on the right who would expand copyright power to that degree!"

    Then I read the article:

    Voting with the majority (to throw out the judgement): Alito, Breyer, Kagan, Roberts, Sotomayor, Thomas

    Voting with the dissent (to sustain the judgement): Ginsberg, Kennedy, Scalia

    When was the last time you saw a decision along those lines?  Thomas and Scalia on opposite sides?  Kagan and Alito writing a concurring opinion?

    It's pretty obvious ideology didn't play much of a role in this case.  And that's a good thing.


    •  it's a statutory construction case (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JamieG from Md, pico, LilithGardener

      the dissenters are those who, on balance, prefer clear rules, and would therefore treat the non-importation statute as a clear bar.  The majority were those who, on balance, favor "standards," rather than rules, and would treat the fair use exceptions more broadly.

      Thomas and Scalia disagree a little less than 20% of the time, but the times people pay attention to are the political 5-4 decisions.  The closest vote pair are Roberts and Alito

      Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

      by Loge on Tue Mar 19, 2013 at 10:27:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Protecting a valuable status quo (4+ / 0-)

    I'm glad to see this outcome.  A decision for Wiley would have created big problems for booksellers, libraries, Netflix, and secondhand sellers or renters of anything that could conceivably be copyrighted.

    Sometimes the status quo (in this case, the legal doctrine of "first sale") is worth protecting.

    •  Amen to that! (0+ / 0-)

      Shop Liberally this holiday season at Kos Katalog

      by JamieG from Md on Tue Mar 19, 2013 at 09:57:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  not really (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      the publisher won below, and the case has zero implications for any of those businesses to the extent they operate in the U.S., by statute.  Nobody disputed first sale existed, the question was whether it superseded an anti-piracy importation statute.  It's not even the most important decision TODAY. What's more, with respect to streaming content, there will still be geographic price discrimination.

      Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

      by Loge on Tue Mar 19, 2013 at 10:33:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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