The Supreme Court has issued a ruling favoring a book reseller that amounts to a huge consumer victory for everyone.
Grey market goods were at the heart of the issue heard by the High Court. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, “grey market” refers to goods sold without a manufacturer’s authorization at different prices in different countries around the world.
The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that a Thai man who resold foreign-edition textbooks to U.S. students for less than the U.S. versions did not infringe on the copyrights of publishers.
Publisher John Wiley & Sons Inc. had accused former University of Southern California Ph.D. student Supap Kirtsaeng of copyright infringement. The publisher initially won a $600,000 judgment that has now been reversed.
I have long contended that grey market goods are legal, and trying to argue they’re not is just another attempt by manufacturers to force prices up on their goods. It would have been a terrible thing for the public had the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the manufacturers — and the publishers, in this case.
While I’m happy with the outcome, I should note last time the Supreme Court heard a price-fixing case, they came out deadlocked with a 4-4 vote. Unfortunately, because of the way that particular case had been heard by lower courts, the 4-4 vote was enough for manufacturers to win and you to lose.
But finally the people win with this latest decision!