the Retail Litigation Center (RLC), along with the National Association of
Chain Drug Stores (NACDS), The American Free Trade Association (AFTA) and
Quality King Distributors, Inc. submitted an amicus curiae brief to the Supreme
Court of the United States asking the Court to uphold the first sale doctrine
in the context of goods lawfully manufactured outside the United States in the
case of Supap Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
first sale doctrine allows the lawful owner of an item, such as a book, CD or
virtually any household product, to resell the item without the consent of the
copyright owner. The freedom to resell items downstream allows for a robust
secondary market. The question presented by the RLC brief is whether the
copyright owner is entitled to control downstream sales just because it opts to
manufacture the items abroad or whether the first sale doctrine also applies to
goods manufactured outside the United States.
According to the brief:
“To retailers, wholesalers, and consumers of copyrighted works,
the first sale doctrine is the Magna Carta of commerce. Businesses need
confidence that they can purchase and resell genuine goods in U.S. commerce
free from claims of copyright infringement, whether the goods are of domestic
or foreign provenance. Properly interpreted, the first sale doctrine
secures to businesses and individuals the right to acquire and resell goods
produced by or under the authority of the holder of the United States
copyright, regardless of whether the goods were made in the United States or abroad.”
full brief can be found here.
Retail Litigation Center is a public policy organization that identifies and
engages in legal proceedings which affect the retail industry. The RLC,
whose members include America’s largest retailers, was formed to provide courts
with retail industry perspectives on significant legal issues, and highlight
the potential industry-wide consequences of legal principles that may be
determined in pending cases.