In two past entries in this series, here and here, I discussed whether copyrighted goods manufactured abroad may be resold in the United States without having to get a new license from the copyright owner. When the goods are pirated – manufactured illegally – the answer is clearly no; that’s a classic black-market sale. But when the goods were manufactured abroad with the copyright owner’s consent, well, that’s different. In that case, the resale is what we call a gray-market sale. And there, the answer is less clear.

Or at least it was. But at long last, and after one false start, the Supreme Court has finally weighed in. This month’s ruling in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons tells us that gray-market goods are indeed different. For them, the answer is yes: One can resell them without getting a license from the copyright owner. [...]

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