John Wiley & Sons, Inc. v. Kirtsaeng
Art Law

John Wiley & Sons, Inc. v. Kirtsaeng

Click here to download a PDF of the full decision. On remand from U.S. Supreme Court’s 2016 decision on attorneys’ fees in copyright cases, district court again denies book reseller’s request for attorneys’ fees. Graduate student Supap Kirtsaeng, a citizen of Thailand who studied math at Cornell University, discovered that publisher John Wiley & Sons sold nearly identical English language textbooks in Thailand and the United States, except that the textbooks cost significantly less in Thailand. With the help of his family and friends, Kirtsaeng started a profitable business purchasing foreign-edition textbooks from Thai bookstores and reselling them to American students. Wiley sued for copyright infringement, accusing Kirtsaeng of violating Wiley’s exclusive right to distribute textbooks. Kirtsaeng asserted a defense based on the “first sale” doctrine pursuant to Section 109(a) of the Copyright Act, which generally permits the lawful owner of a copy of a work to dispose of it in any manner. At the time of the lawsuit, the courts were in conflict as to whether the first sale doctrine applied to foreign-made works. The district court and Second Circuit sided with Wiley holding that it does not, but the U.S. Supreme Court reversed, establishing that the first-sale […]

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