Lees Summit, MO asked in Copyright and Education Law for Kansas

Q: Can US students legally purchase international editions of textbooks?

Looking for an alleged 1998 SCOTUS decision on the issue but can't locate. Claim made by secondhand textbook retailers but not substantiated by any evidence I've seen yet.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Will Blackton
Will Blackton
  • Intellectual Property Lawyer
  • Raleigh, NC

A: To answer your question: Yes, US students may legally purchase international editions of textbooks. It's really the -seller- of international textbooks that must invoke the first-sale doctrine to protect their activities, but the Supreme Court recently decided that they may.

You're looking for Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., which was decided more recently than 1998. Here is a link to the coverage of the case on SCOTUSBLOG: http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/kirtsaeng-v-john-wiley-sons-inc/ with a link to the entire opinion.

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