The Supreme Court has sided with a Thai graduate student in the U.S. who sold cheap foreign versions of textbooks on eBay without the publisher’s permission, a decision with important implications for goods sold online and in discount stores.
The justices, in a 6-3 vote Tuesday, threw out a copyright infringement award to publisher John Wiley & Sons. Thai graduate student Supap Kirtsaeng used eBay to resell copies of the publisher’s copyrighted books that his relatives first bought abroad at cut-rate prices.
Justice Stephen Breyer said in his opinion for the court that the publisher lost any ability to control what happens to its books after their first sale abroad.
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