AAP STATEMENT ON SUPREME COURT DECISION Kirtsaeng v John Wiley & Sons Inc.
The following statement was released today by Tom Allen, President and CEO, the Association of American Publishers, in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc:
“We are disappointed that today’s copyright decision by the US Supreme Court ignores broader issues critical to America’s ability to compete in the global marketplace. To quote Justice Ginsburg’s dissenting opinion, the divided ruling is a ‘bold departure’ from Congress’ intention ‘to protect copyright owners against the unauthorized importation of low-priced, foreign made copies of their copyrighted works’ that is made ‘more stunning’ by its conflict with current US trade policy.
“The Court’s ruling on a narrow question of statutory construction revealed diverse views among the Justices on whether Congress, in enacting the importation prohibitions, intended to facilitate the ability of publishers and other US copyright owners to segment their foreign and domestic markets with different pricing strategies in order to compete effectively in global trade.
“The decision will have significant ramifications for Americans who produce the books, music, movies and other content consumed avidly around the world. The Court’s interpretation of the ‘first sale’ provision of US copyright law will discourage the active export of US copyrighted works. It will also reduce the ability of educators and students in foreign countries to have access to US-produced educational materials, widely considered the world’s gold standard.
“Despite their differences, all of the Justices acknowledged the increasingly critical importance of foreign markets to the well-being of the US economy and that the impact of US copyright law on the development and growth of American participation in global trade is ultimately a matter for Congress to decide. AAP expects that Congress will likely consider whether the impact of the Court’s divided ruling on the ability of US producers to effectively compete in global markets requires legislative clarification. AAP will be prepared to participate on behalf of publishers in whatever process Congress undertakes to consider and address these issues.”