Your right to buy and sell the goods you own may be under assault – due to “copyright.”

The Supreme Court will decide a case this year which stems from an a dispute between an entrepreneur who bought text books overseas at lower cost than they were in the states, shipped them back to the States, and then resold them for less than the publisher.

The publisher had a problem with this. So, instead of adjusting for the market the company took the innovative grad student to court.  All because he resold merchandise which he purchased at the standard cost in Thailand and resold what he owned in the United States.

He bought the books. Does he own them or not?

The publisher, John Wiley and Sons, is asserting that what the entrepreneur did was a violation of copyright. This is a colossal stretch, but if the Supreme Court sides with the company for some reason, it could have devastating impacts on business, especially small and micro business.


In its friend-of-the-court brief, eBay noted that the Second Circuit’s rule “affords copyright owners the ability to control the downstream sales of goods for which they have already been paid.” What’s more, it “allows for significant adverse consequences for trade, e-commerce, secondary markets, small businesses, consumers and jobs in the United States.”

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