View Authors March 2013
On March 19, 2013, the US Supreme Court issued its highly-anticipated decision in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. The Court expressly held that the first sale doctrine protects the owner in the US of a copy of a copyrighted work that was lawfully made and purchased abroad. The 6-3 decision resolves the scope of the Copyright Act’s first sale doctrine, which had split the Court 4-4 just two terms ago in Costco Wholesale Corp. v. Omega, S.A. Kirtsaeng provides clear authority that will protect retailers and technology companies that regularly sell copies of foreign-made goods containing copyrighted materials. The decision also protects libraries and museums that wish to display or distribute foreign-made copyrighted materials. Conversely, Kirstaeng provides another road block for content-generating companies that seek to price their goods differently in different geographic regions.