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Foreign Rights Not Foreign Anymore

And the walls come tumbling down! As reported this week in Publishers Weekly, the Supreme Court handed copyright holders and publishers a global market haircut by limiting control over intellectual property to the first sale only. Turns out, an entrepreneurial student CAN import cheap textbooks from overseas and undercut the publisher’s sales of that same textbook in its home market. It used to be, back in the days when publishing was a gentleman’s business, if a publisher sold foreign rights of a textbook to, say, India, the textbook would stay in that “territory.” No more, now that all boundaries appear to have gone south. It will be interesting to see how this ruling plays out in the wider arena of e-books.

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