Sunday 8 July 2012

US library lending "under threat", says LCA

The Library Copyright Alliance (LCA), which consists of the American Library Association (ALA), the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), has filed an amicus curiae brief with the US Supreme Court in support of Supap Kirtsaeng in Kirtsaeng v Wiley & Sons (first noted on the 1709 Blog here).

Textbook publisher Wiley claims that Kirtsaeng infringed its copyrights by reselling in the US cheap foreign editions of its textbooks which his family lawfully purchased abroad. The LCA believes an adverse decision in this case could affect libraries’ right to lend books and other materials manufactured abroad. Kirtsaeng maintains that he is entitled to do this under the US equivalent of the European doctrine of "exhaustion of rights", the “first-sale doctrine”. By this provision, anyone who buys a lawful copy of a book or other copyright protected work is entitled to sell or lend that copy. The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that the first-sale doctrine applied only to copies manufactured in the United States. This odd interpretation of the law effectively strips libraries of their first sale right to lend their own copies of works made abroad, says the LCA. In its amicus brief, the LCA asks the Supreme Court to reverse that decision and apply the first-sale doctrine to all copies manufactured with the lawful authorization of the holder of a work’s U.S. copyright.

There's a lot riding on the outcome of this case so far as libraries are concerned, since a significant portion of US library collections is said to consist of resources that were manufactured overseas. More than 200 million books in US libraries have foreign publishers, and many books published by US publishers were actually printed in other countries; these books do not always indicate where they were printed. If a book does not specify that it was printed in the United States, a library would not know whether it could lend it without being exposed to a copyright lawsuit.

Thanks, Chris Torrero, for the link.


john walker said...

this obviously involves free trade (and the continuing restrictions of tade in books, DVDs ....) otherwise why the same title would be much the same price everywhere, no?

GrahamT said...

[Jeremy not clear if 1st comment post went through!]
Surely if the decision is not over-turned it would affect the whole second-hand market, including Ebay and charity shops?