U.S. Court Rules 1st Sale Doctrine Inapplicable to Imports

posted on 2008-11-20 03:22 EST

The Publishers Weekly trade magazine reports that a United States District Court ruled that two foreign booksellers could not import textbooks into the United States if the books were intended only for overseas distribution. The Jun Liao and Zhengshu Go booksellers claimed that the first sale doctrine, which allows a copyright holder to restrict only the first transaction of an item, meant that publishers cannot restrict the resale of imported books. Judge Sidney H. Stein of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that McGraw-Hill Education, Pearson Education, Inc., John Wiley & Sons Inc., and Cengage Learning could restrict imports beyond the first sale. According to the ruling, "the resale in the United States of copies manufactured outside the United States" are not protected by the doctrine since they were not acquired under American law.

Icarus Publishing notes that this ruling could potentially affect other, otherwise legal items that are imported into the United States, such as Japanese manga and anime goods. In 2005, Funimation prevented Akadot, a retail affiliate of Digital Manga Publishing, from importing original Japanese Fullmetal Alchemist music CDs for sale online in the United States.

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