International price discrimination, copyright and the ‘first sale’ doctrine


I received an interesting e-mail from my publishers during the week. A Court ruling in the US effectively prevents a range of international price discrimination that has operated against US consumers. Anyone can now buy a legitimate copy of a textbook or other copyright material anywhere in the world and import it for resale in the US. Put simply, US consumers will now be able to get copyright material at ‘world cheapest price’ so long as resale is technically feasible.

Clearly resale is relatively easy for textbooks, so publishers are revising their international price discrimination. This hurts the countries who used to gain from this discrimination, but benefits the US.

A link to the Court decision is here. The decision is called “Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons” and relates to the so-called  ‘first sale doctrine’. And as Australia is often on the ‘wrong side’ of international price discrimination can we please have a government that pushes for the same type of rules to apply to Australia on books and other copyright material?

2 Responses to "International price discrimination, copyright and the ‘first sale’ doctrine"
  1. No we can’t because the Menzies Government was probably the last Australian Government to have the balls to ignore foreigners in the interests of Australians (a noble tradition shared by all Labor and Liberal Governments before that, especially Labor)

  2. PC did a very good report on parallel import restrictions a few years ago. As expected the recommendations were ignored in the face of rent-protection lobby efforts by the publishing industry.

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