Supreme Court Holds First Sale Doctrine Applies to Copies Sold Overseas

Judge using his gavelIn a 6-3 decision and a complete win for the defendant, the Supreme Court today held that the first sale (or exhaustion) doctrine applies to copies of copyrighted works created outside of the United States. That means, irrespective of where the particular copy of a book, sound recording, movie, etc., was manufactured or sold, a lawful purchaser has the right to import, re-sell or otherwise re-distribute that copy in the United States without violating Sections 106(3) or 602(a)(1) of the Copyright Act.

Note that two of the majority issued a concurring opinion, inviting Congress to legislatively overrule the holding with respect to the Section 602 importation right (which would effectively gut this holding’s applicability to U.S. consumers).

The Vanishing First Sale Doctrine: Second Circuit Joins Ninth In Holding First Sale Not Applicable To Copies Manufactured Outside U.S.

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Creative Commons License photo credit: benchilada
In Wiley & Sons, Inc. v. Kirstaeng, the Second Circuit has now (by a 2 to 1 majority decision) joined the Ninth in holding that the first sale doctrine, recognized in Section 109 of the Copyright Act, does not apply to copyright-protected works embodied in copies manufactured outside the United States. [Read more…]