Libraries Worried About Potential Supreme Court Ruling Concerning Legality Of Selling Imported Omega Watches
from the greymarket-libraries dept
Amazingly, the court agreed. Even more amazing? The Obama administration argues that the court decided correctly, in part because the recent ProIP Act (which gave us our friendly IP Czar) ever so slightly changed the rules on importing and exporting copyrighted goods... removing first sale rights from foreign goods.
The implications, if this is true, are immensely problematic. A coalition of libraries has now filed a detailed amicus brief in the case (pdf) noting what a massive problem it would be if the lower court ruling is upheld:
Over 200 million books in U.S. libraries have foreign publishers. Moreover, many books published by U.S. publishers were actually manufactured by printers in other countries. Although some books indicate on their copyright page where they were printed, many do not. Libraries, therefore, have no way of knowing whether these books comply with the Ninth Circuit's rule. Without the certainty of the protection of the first sale doctrine, librarians will have to confront the difficult policy decision of whether to continue to circulate these materials in their collections in the face of potential copyright infringement liability. For future acquisitions, libraries would be able to adjust to the Ninth Circuit's narrowing of Section 109(a) only by bearing the significant cost of obtaining a "lending license" whenever they acquired a copy that was not clearly manufactured in the United States.How ridiculous is it that copyright law -- which was originally put in place "for the encouragement of learning," might now make it much more difficult to encourage learning through libraries.
Now, some will obviously state that this is a problem for Congress, not the courts, to fix. And, to some extent that is true. But the Supreme Court is also supposed to make sure that the laws that Congress has put in place are interpreted in line with the Constitution. In this case, copyright law is being so abused as to clearly have nothing to do with its intended purpose, and thus the court can and should note that this interpretation of copyright law is clearly outside the bounds of what Congress could have possibly meant.