In a case involving a Thai graduate student in California, Supap Kirtsaeng, the U.S. Supreme Court has decided to examine if he violated U.S. copyright laws when he had family members in Thailand buy textbooks in the Asia, and then re-sell them at higher prices through eBay. The U.S. Supreme Court had agreed to rule on this issue in 2010, but split 4-4 on the decision.
The issue is whether the "first sale doctrine", which allows an owner of a book to re-sell it without the permission of the publisher, applies to foreign made goods sold in the U.S. A lower court found that this doctrine did not apply to foreign goods, and ordered Mr. Kirtsaeng to pay US$600,000 to John Wiley & Sons. Mr. Kirtsaeng filed a petition for writ of certiorari asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear his case and reverse that ruling. The U.S. Supreme Court has accepted the case for review, something it only does about 1% of the time that petitions for writ of certiorari are filed. More information, including pleadings in this case, are available on the SCOTUS blog site here.