Is the Kirtsaeng effect being felt already?

Last October, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. where petitioner, Kirtsaeng earned a profit of $100,000 by buying low cost Thai manufactured textbooks in Thailand and selling them over the internet in the U.S.  John Wiley sued on copyright grounds and Kirtsaeng proferred the U.S. first sale doctrine as a defense.  While we await the Supreme Court’s ruling on whether the first sale doctrine applies to materials manufactured outside of the U.S., Kevin Smith, in his excellent blog, Scholarly Communication @ Duke (, has  noticed what may be evidence of a growing hostility to the first sale doctrine among American publishers. 

AALL members were alerted to Kirtsaeng at the terrific program, Hot Topics in Copyright for Librarians, at the AALL Annual Conference in Boston last summer. SCOTUSblog’s Kirtsaeng page links to many of the merit and amicus briefs.



One response to “Is the Kirtsaeng effect being felt already?”

  1. Tracy Thompson-Przylucki Avatar
    Tracy Thompson-Przylucki

    AALL supports the First Sale Doctrine and has joined the Owner’s Rights Initiative (ORI) to further efforts to preserve it. ORI emerged in response to Kirtsaeng. Their stated purpose is:

    The Owners’ Rights Initiative (ORI) is a diverse coalition of businesses, associations and organizations that have joined together to protect ownership rights in the United States. We believe in the fundamental premise that if you bought it, you own it, and should have the right to sell, lend or give away your personal property. ORI members are concerned about recent federal court decisions that have eroded owners’ rights. The initiative provides a unified voice for members to engage in advocacy, education and outreach around these important issues.

    For more on Kirtsaeng, see this Issue Brief drafted by the AALL Government Relations Office and the Copyright Committee.

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