div>The AmeriKat walked down Bedford Row early last week, wrapping her coat tightly around her as the chilling wind whipped up auburn leaves around her paws. (picture, left) Later in the week, walking past Wildy & Sons, she was faced with having to discard said coat as the sun beamed down on the glistening fountain in Lincoln's Inn. Perhaps, she thought, there are some last few days of summer to be had? Wishful thinking, she concluded. The signs of the impending seasonal change have truly begun to weave its signature signs into the patchwork quilt that has been the London summer. During last year's weeks of seasonal transition, the AmeriKat was writing about the impending first sale doctrine US Supreme Court ruling in the Omega v Costco case. Now a year later she is again writing about the decision, but this time in relation to its after-effects being felt in the lower courts.
"[t]here is no indication that the imported books at issue here were manufactured pursuant to the US Copyright Act. . . [and,][t]o the contrary, the textbooks introduced as evidence purport, on their face, to have been published outside of the United States."
"Importation into the United States, without the authority of the owner of copyright under this title, of copies ... of a work that have been acquired outside the United States is an infringement of the exclusive right to distribute copies or phonorecords under section 106, actionable under section 501"
"Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106(3) [of the Copyright Act], the owner of a particular copy...lawfully made under this title, or any person authorized by such owner, is entitled, without the authority of the copyright owner, to sell or otherwise dispose of the possession of that copy."The Court, in its footnotes, examined the origin of the first sale doctrine. The first sale doctrine was first endorsed in the Supreme Court case of Bobbs-Merrill Co v Straus (1908) where the Court held that
"The purchase of a book, once sold by authority of the owner of the copyright, may sell it again, although he could not publish a new edition of it. . . . In our view the copyright statutes, while protecting the owner of the copyright in his right to multiply and sell his production, do not create the right to impose, by notice, such as is disclosed in this case, a limitation at which the book shall be sold at retail by future purchasers, with whom there is no privity of contract."
"This case involves a 'round trip' journey, travel of copies in question from the United States to places abroad, then back again. I join the Court's opinion recognizing that we do not today resolve cases in which the allegedly infringing imports were manufactured abroad."
"If the author of the work gave the exclusive U.S. distribution rights–enforceable under the Act–to the publisher of the U.S. edition and the exclusive British distribution rights to the publisher of the British edition, however, presumably only those made by the publisher of the U.S. edition would be “lawfully made under this title” within the meaning of §109(a). The first sale doctrine would not provide the publisher of the British edition who decided to sell in the American market with a defense to an action under §602(a) (or, for that matter, to an action under §106(3), if there was a distribution of the copies)."