Supreme Court: It's yours to resell
WASHINGTON (NBC) -- Millions of Americans who buy and sell used items got a big victory Tuesday in the Supreme Court.
The court ruled against a book publisher who sued an eBay user for copyright infringement.
The book publisher Wiley and Sons sued a former college student who was making money by buying new textbooks at a discount in Thailand and then selling them in the U.S. on eBay, also at a discount.
The court rejected the publisher's arguments the sales infringed on its copyright protections.
The suit could have impacted anyone selling items with international copyrights, from eBay users to second hands stores like Goodwill, even garage sales.
"This is great for the American economy, this is great for consumers and frankly this is great for everybody who's engaged in the secondary markets," says Andrew Shore of the Owners Rights Initiative.
The decision rides on something called the First Sale Doctrine. It says if you buy an item such as a book or a CD, even if it's copyrighted that item is yours to do with what you want, whether it be to re-sell it or give it away.
The court decided the rule, which already applied to items made in the U.S., also applies to products made overseas.
Tom Allen, who represents publishers, says the ruling is bad for business and the economy.
"That undermines the market for the goods in the United States and makes publishers less willing to sell overseas," he claims.
Allen hopes Congress will get involved.
The judges ruled 6-3 protecting the sale of what's often considered "grey market" items.
In dissent Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg said the ruling makes publishers copyright protections against the importation of foreign-made copies basically insignificant.