U.S. Supreme Court holds that a buyer of a copy of a copyrighted work lawfully manufactured abroad is free to import that copy into the United States and sell it or give it away without obtaining permission to do so from the copyright owner.

by Allen M Lee22. March 2013 10:01

In Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., the U.S. Supreme Court has held that the “first sale” doctrine, which allows the owner of a copy of a copyrighted work to sell or otherwise dispose of that copy as he or she wishes, applies to copies of a copyrighted work lawfully made abroad.

Section 106 of the Copyright Act grants “the owner of copyright” certain exclusive rights, including the right “to distribute copies . . . of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership.” 17 U. S. C. § 106(3).  This right is qualified by, among other things, the first sale doctrine, which provides that a purchaser of a work protected by copyright is permitted to freely sell or otherwise dispose of that copy without the permission of the copyright owner.  17 U.S.C. § 109(a) (“the owner of a particular copy . . . is entitled, without the authority of the copyright owner, to sell or otherwise dispose of the possession of that copy”). 

However, prior to Kirtsaeng, courts were divided as to whether the first sale doctrine applied to works that were made by the copyright owner outside of the United States.  Under 17 U.S.C. § 602, importation into the United States of so called “gray-market goods” constituted an infringement of the copyright owner’s exclusive right to distribute copies of his or her work.  See 17 U.S.C. § 602(a)(1) (“Importation into the United States, without the authority of the owner of copyright under this title, of copies or phonorecords of a work that have been acquired outside the United States is an infringement of the exclusive right to distribute copies or phonorecords under section 106, actionable under section 501”).

In Kirtsaeng, the Court held that that the first sale doctrine applies to copies of a copyrighted work lawfully made abroad.  Accordingly, a buyer of a copy of a copyrighted work lawfully manufactured abroad is free to import that copy into the United States and sell it or give it away without obtaining permission to do so from the copyright owner.

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U.S. Supreme Court holds that a buyer of a copy of a copyrighted work lawfully manufactured abroad is free to import that copy into the United States and sell it or give it away without obtaining permission to do so from the copyright owner.

by Allen M Lee22. March 2013 09:18

In Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., the U.S. Supreme Court has held that the “first sale” doctrine, which allows the owner of a copy of a copyrighted work to sell or otherwise dispose of that copy as he or she wishes, applies to copies of a copyrighted work lawfully made abroad.

Section 106 of the Copyright Act grants “the owner of copyright” certain exclusive rights, including the right “to distribute copies . . . of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership.” 17 U. S. C. § 106(3).  This right is qualified by, among other things, the first sale doctrine, which provides that a purchaser of a work protected by copyright is permitted to freely sell or otherwise dispose of that copy without the permission of the copyright owner.  17 U.S.C. § 109(a) (“the owner of a particular copy . . . is entitled, without the authority of the copyright owner, to sell or otherwise dispose of the possession of that copy”). 

However, prior to Kirtsaeng, courts were divided as to whether the first sale doctrine applied to works that were made by the copyright owner outside of the United States.  Under 17 U.S.C. § 602, importation into the United States of so called “gray-market goods” constituted an infringement of the copyright owner’s exclusive right to distribute copies of his or her work.  See 17 U.S.C. § 602(a)(1) (“Importation into the United States, without the authority of the owner of copyright under this title, of copies or phonorecords of a work that have been acquired outside the United States is an infringement of the exclusive right to distribute copies or phonorecords under section 106, actionable under section 501”).

In Kirtsaeng, the Court held that that the first sale doctrine applies to copies of a copyrighted work lawfully made abroad.  Accordingly, a buyer of a copy of a copyrighted work lawfully manufactured abroad is free to import that copy into the United States and sell it or give it away without obtaining permission to do so from the copyright owner.

Tags: ,

U.S. Supreme Court holds that a buyer of a copy of a copyrighted work lawfully manufactured abroad is free to import that copy into the United States and sell it or give it away without obtaining permission to do so from the copyright owner.

by Allen M Lee22. March 2013 09:18

In Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., the U.S. Supreme Court has held that the “first sale” doctrine, which allows the owner of a copy of a copyrighted work to sell or otherwise dispose of that copy as he or she wishes, applies to copies of a copyrighted work lawfully made abroad.

Section 106 of the Copyright Act grants “the owner of copyright” certain exclusive rights, including the right “to distribute copies . . . of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership.” 17 U. S. C. § 106(3).  This right is qualified by, among other things, the first sale doctrine, which provides that a purchaser of a work protected by copyright is permitted to freely sell or otherwise dispose of that copy without the permission of the copyright owner.  17 U.S.C. § 109(a) (“the owner of a particular copy . . . is entitled, without the authority of the copyright owner, to sell or otherwise dispose of the possession of that copy”). 

However, prior to Kirtsaeng, courts were divided as to whether the first sale doctrine applied to works that were made by the copyright owner outside of the United States.  Under 17 U.S.C. § 602, importation into the United States of so called “gray-market goods” constituted an infringement of the copyright owner’s exclusive right to distribute copies of his or her work.  See 17 U.S.C. § 602(a)(1) (“Importation into the United States, without the authority of the owner of copyright under this title, of copies or phonorecords of a work that have been acquired outside the United States is an infringement of the exclusive right to distribute copies or phonorecords under section 106, actionable under section 501”).

In Kirtsaeng, the Court held that that the first sale doctrine applies to copies of a copyrighted work lawfully made abroad.  Accordingly, a buyer of a copy of a copyrighted work lawfully manufactured abroad is free to import that copy into the United States and sell it or give it away without obtaining permission to do so from the copyright owner.

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