The First Sale Doctrine, Section 109(a) of the Copyright Act allows the owner of any copyrighted material to sell the material without the permission of the copyright owner. This is what allows you to buy a textbook from the CCBC bookstore and then re-sell the book either back to the Bookstore or to another individual without getting into trouble with the publisher of the textbook.Well an enterprising young man and graduate student from Thailand used friends and family to buy copies of textbooks published outside of the US- at a significant discount from US prices (why is everything cheaper when produced outside of the US) and then he resold the books to US students at deeply discounted prices. He made about $100,000 on eBay doing this. He was sued by the publisher of eight of the textbooks he resold. The student enlisted the First Sale Rule as a defense under Copyright law. The textbook publisher tried to argue that the First Sale Doctrine applied only to books published in the US – and the trial court and circuit court of appeals agreed with the publisher. The student then appealed to the US Supreme Court AND HE WON! The US Supreme Court agreed with him and held that it did not matter that the material was produced abroad. That the First Sale Rule favored a non-geographic interpretation. Attached is a copy of the majority opinion.Week 11 Case – Discussion Board First Sale Doctrine(1).pdf So what do you think -textbook manufacturers have to contend with tons of competition at home and now abroad. They have tight profit margins (so they claim)- should a person be able to buy cheaper textbooks abroad and resell them here? It is sort of like buying prescription drugs online from Canada – same principle. Should the Congress change the law to protect American textbook publishers?
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