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Another copyright case, another victory for libraries

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Last Tuesday, in the case of Kirtsaeng vs. John Wiley & Sons, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 to uphold the “first sale” doctrine for materials purchased from non-U.S. sources.  This ruling allows legal purchasers of copyrighted material from overseas to continue to subsequently resell, loan, rent, etc., copyrighted material.  The first sale doctrine, in general, is the exemption that allows libraries to loan books to borrowers, video stores (those that are left) to rent DVDs, or individuals to loan or resell a book or CD or other copyrighted work to someone else without fear of running afoul of the normal protection afforded to copyright holders to control the sale and distribution of their copyrighted content.

At issue in the Kirsaeng case was whether or not materials purchased overseas were subject to this exemption, or if the exemption applied only to those copyrighted materials purchased within the United States.  The plaintiff, publisher John Wiley & Sons, argued that the exemption did not apply to works intended to be sold overseas, and that the defendant, a graduate student named Supap Kirtsaeng, had violated copyright law by purchasing textbooks in Thailand intended for that market (and sold there at a lower price than in the U.S.) and then reselling them in the United States to help finance the cost of his graduate education.

Why is this important for Middlebury?  Because Middlebury libraries purchase at least 10% (by cost) of our material from overseas vendors.  (This is a conservative estimate based on our expenditures with our primary foreign dealers; the actual percentage is certainly higher, although probably not by much.)  If this case had been decided differently, there would be considerable doubt as to whether we could continue to loan materials purchased overseas without some sort of legislative intervention that specifically allowed it.

If you would like to read more about the case and its implications, take a look at this article from the Chronicle of Higher Education.  Kenneth Crews, from Columbia U., has an excellent analysis on his blog here, and Kevin Smith at Duke has a couple of posts here and here.  And if you are a true glutton for punishment, the full text of the SCOTUS decision is here (pdf).

The “Hypocritic” Oath: What The Roberts Ruling Says About How Courts Function

Categories: Midd Blogosphere
Professor Murray Dry, my Middlebury colleague and an excellent legal scholar, takes issue with portions of my recent posts regarding the Roberts Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  Murray writes, “I want to quibble a bit over your … Continue reading

Did Roberts Outmaneuver The Liberal Justices?

Categories: Midd Blogosphere
In the world of politics, there are always two stories – what actually happened, and then what the media says happened.  We are seeing this now, in the media analysis of the Roberts Court’s ruling last Thursday regarding the individual … Continue reading

Roberts Was Right, Institutionally Speaking

Categories: Midd Blogosphere
So, what explains the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, more popularly known as Obamacare?   As most of you will recall, I thought the justices’ votes would fall largely along ideological lines, as captured … Continue reading

OK, OK, Enough Already! I’ll Post Something On Health Care

Categories: Midd Blogosphere
Nothing has happened in the ensuring three months to change my view, expressed in  my original post on the Supreme Court’s health care hearings last March, that that the best predictor of how the Court will rule today is how … Continue reading

How Will The Supreme Court Rule Regarding Obamacare?

Categories: Midd Blogosphere
How should the Supreme Court decide regarding the constitutionality of Obamacare? I have no idea.  But even if I did, my opinion wouldn’t be worth much. After all, I’m a presidency scholar and this is a blog about presidential power, … Continue reading

Will Kagan Be Confirmed?

Categories: Midd Blogosphere
In thinking in an earlier post about Justice Stevens’ replacement, I suggested that Obama would likely choose the most liberal woman he could get through the Senate.  I had in mind either his eventual choice, Elena Kagan, or Appeals Court Judge Diane Wood.  My guess is that Obama would have preferred Wood, who has a [...]