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Corporate Law, Copyright Violations & Reselling Used Books

As a busy San Diego Corporate Lawyer, copyright violation cases are one of the most common matters we investigate. Copyright violations are nothing new. They happen frequently – and many are cut and dry.

Not, though, when it comes to the reselling of used books. This is a muddy area, and one that the U.S. Supreme Court is taking up right now.

Back in October 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on a case which may determine whether you will be able to sell a used book on eBay or other reseller web sites.

In Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., a student, through his family in Thailand, legally purchased books that were published there by a U.S. publishing house.  That publisher, like many others, publishes similar versions of their U.S. titles in foreign countries at cheaper prices.  After the student resold the books on eBay, the publishing company argued that his actions amounted to copyright infringement because the U.S. copyright laws give the owner of the copyright the exclusive right to import copies of a work from outside the United States.  The student argued that another provision of the copyright laws give a purchaser of a particular copy of a work “lawfully made under this title” of the copyright law the right to resell the book without getting the permission of the publisher.  The case could have a dramatic impact on e-commerce and online resale sites.

The trial court and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals both sided with the publisher. The U.S. Supreme Court decision is expected by the end of its term in June, 2013.

Corporate law cases involving copyright violations can be complicated and often involved outside counsel. If your company and firm needs outside San Diego Business Law advice and/or counsel – contact Steven Elia for a consultation.

Steven Elia

Steven Elia

Mr. Elia has extensive litigation experience having appeared at more than 1,000 civil hearings including jury and bench trials, over 500 depositions, and hundreds of mediations. Some of his cases have made national headlines. He specializes in personal injury, business law and civil litigation in and around San Diego.