WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court, in a major ruling on copyright law, has given foreign buyers of textbooks, movies and other products a right to resell them in the United States without the permission of the copyright owner.
The 6-3 decision is a victory for a former USC student from Thailand, Supap Kirtsaeng, who figured he could earn money by buying textbooks at lower costs in his native country and selling them in the United States.
He was sued by publisher John Wiley & Sons for violating its copyright protection. A jury in New York agreed with the publisher, and the former student was assessed damages of $600,000 for willfully violating the company’s copyrights.
But the Supreme Court reversed that judgment today in Kirtsaeng vs. John Wiley and ruled the student had the better interpretation of the law.
The decision helps book buyers and merchants who resell goods purchased abroad, but it could prove to be a setback for American companies that sell copyrighted goods overseas.