Today the US Supreme Court announced its much-anticipated decision in Kirtsaeng v. Wiley, a lawsuit regarding the bedrock principle of the “first sale doctrine.” The 6-3 opinion is a total victory for libraries and our users. It vindicates the foundational principle of the first sale doctrine—if you bought it, you own it. All who believe in that principle, and the certainty it provides to libraries and many other parts of our culture and economy, should join us in applauding the Court for correcting the legal ambiguity that led to this case in the first place. It is especially gratifying that Justice Breyer’s majority opinion focused on the considerable harm that the Second Circuit’s opinion would have caused libraries.
What if you had to ask permission before selling, lending, or even giving away your books?
The sole interest of the United States and the primary object in conferring the monopoly lie in the general benefits derived by the public from the labors of authors.