In the summer of 2012, my friend Hans Kemp and I were sitting in Bangkok, Thailand, talking about the changing world of publishing and the new challenges facing small independent publishers and writers. Hans and I had just collaborated on a successful illustrated book — Sacred Skin, Thailand’s Spirit Tattoos — for his Hong Kong based publishing house Visionary World.
The era of the monolithic print textbook is coming to a close. The Kirtsaeng decision is the latest indication that it is not sustainable.
US publishers are poised to take their battle to stop books bought abroad being resold in the US to Congress, after the Supreme Court ruled against them in a case that will have broad implications for global commerce.
In the case of Kirtsaeng v Wiley, the court ruled in favour of Supap Kirtsaeng, a California student who asked his family in Thailand to buy textbooks for him at low international prices so he could resell them at a profit on eBay.
The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Kirtsaeng v. Wiley & Sons will impact the right to resell copyrighted goods and the pricing policies of copyright owners.
A copyright owner has the exclusive right to distribute copies. The “first sale doctrine” of the Copyright Act allows the “owner” of “a particular copy” to resell that individual copy. Software is licensed not sold, and usually the licensee does not own and can not resell the licensed copy. But books are sold, not licensed, at least in print media.
Most of us have probably sold an old book at a yard sale, on eBay, given it to a library, or some such thing. We probably never gave it a second thought. Maybe we need to. Maybe we are criminals, violating copyright law.
A case has come before the Supreme Court that could turn some of our assumptions upside down, at least as pertains to books produced overseas. Take that, Gutenberg! You better read Johannes' copyright notice before you sell your copy of his bible.
According to a self-described “web innovation” news site knows as e27, the largest e-bookstore in Thailand—it’s known as Ookbee—just raised US$2 million in funding from the legendary Thai conglomerate formerly known as the Shin Corporation. The Shin Corporation, by the way, was founded in 1983 by the former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Shin, which now [...]