Supreme Court Quotes Durie Tangri Amicus Brief

March 19, 2013

In its opinion in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, the Supreme Court quoted the brief filed by Durie Tangri lawyers Mark Lemley and Joe Gratz on behalf of used-book stores Powell’s Books, Strand Bookstore, Half Price Books, and Harvard Book Store.  In support of its holding that lawfully-made copies of books can be resold regardless of their country of manufacture, the Court said:

Used-book dealers tell us that, from the time when Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson built commercial and personal libraries of foreign books, American readers have bought used books published and printed abroad. Brief for Powell’s Books Inc. et al. as Amici Curiae 7 (citing M. Stern, Antiquarian Bookselling in the United States (1985)). The dealers say that they have “operat[ed] . . . for centuries” under the assumption thatthe “first sale” doctrine applies. Brief for Powell’s Books 7. But under a geographical interpretation a contemporary tourist who buys, say, at Shakespeare and Co. (in Paris), a dozen copies of a foreign book for American friends might find that she had violated the copyright law. The usedbook dealers cannot easily predict what the foreign copyright holder may think about a reader’s effort to sell a used copy of a novel. And they believe that a geographical interpretation will injure a large portion of the used-book business.

Read the entire brief is here.