Copyright Case To Top Court

An issue before the Supreme Court regards what protection a copyright holder has once a product made outside of the U.S. is sold for the first time.

A U.S. book publisher’s copyright lawsuit against a Thai graduate student for reselling text books bought overseas is under the microscope as the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Oct. 29.

A New York federal appeals court ordered Supap Kirsaeng to pay John Wiley & Sons $600,000 for allegedly reselling eight Wiley textbooks without permission.
The grad student is said to have resold $900,000 worth of textbooks published by Wiley and others overseas on eBay and earned about $100,000 from the sales. 
Kirseang’s relatives reportedly purchased the books in Thailand at a lower price, then shipped the books to the grad student while he was studying in the U.S. 
How the case goes could affect companies including eBay, Google and other Internet sites as well as Costco and other discount stores that are involved in the gray market – the resale of merchandise that originates overseas – that is said to be worth tens of billions of dollars annually. 
The Supreme Court deadlocked 4-4 in a similar case in 2010 involving Costco and Swiss watchmaker Omega.