Archives for March 2013

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).