Supreme Court Decision in Kirtsaeng

The Supreme Court today announced its decision in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Kirtsaeng was an enterprising Cornell student, who asked his relatives in Thailand to ship him cheaply-published textbooks, which he resold in the United States, undercutting the exclusive U.S. publisher’s editions sold at the university bookstore. The Court, in a 6-3 decision, held that the First Sale doctrine of copyright law applies to permit the resale of these “gray market” imported textbooks. 

Justice Breyer wrote the majority opinion (joined by Justices Roberts, Thomas, Sotomayor, Alito, and Kagan). Justice Kagan filed a concurrance (joined by Justice Alito). Justice Ginsburg filed the dissent, which was joined by Justices Scalia and Kennedy.

Will the opening of a “global marketplace” for textbooks ultimately lower prices for students?

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