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News US Supreme Court hears case of student who resold textbooks

  1. Oct 29, 2012 #1

    jtbell

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  3. Oct 30, 2012 #2
    This gives me the first laughter today.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2012
  4. Oct 30, 2012 #3

    russ_watters

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    Regardless of what the law actually says (what the USSC rules), I think it should say that once you buy it, you own it and can resell it if you want.
     
  5. Oct 30, 2012 #4
    Agreed 100%. And this goes for everything, not just textbooks. This ruling could have an impact on reselling anything.
     
  6. Oct 30, 2012 #5
    Will the Supreme Court decide in favor of US business or in favor of a foreigner? Ha ha ha.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2012
  7. Oct 30, 2012 #6

    russ_watters

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    I don't see why you would ask such a question.
     
  8. Oct 30, 2012 #7

    Vanadium 50

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    I looked at the law (17 USC Chapter 6), and it's a mess. it appears to say two entirely different and contradictory things, and I'm not surprised it is working its way through the courts.

    What appears to be the intent of Congress (as far as I can tell) is to allow individuals to sell their own books obtained overseas, but not to start a business doing that. However, it's not a criminal matter, nor the responsibility of Customs to block the import - it needs to be litigated as a copyright infringement civil suit.

    I think that's what they meant. What they actually wrote is an incoherent mess.
     
  9. Oct 30, 2012 #8

    Ryan_m_b

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    What counts as a business? Is he ok so long as he doesn't register a company?
     
  10. Oct 30, 2012 #9

    jtbell

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    I don't know what the legal definition of a "business" is (in the US), apart from formal incorporation or registration of some kind, but I would think selling multiple copies of the same item would be one criterion.

    In hobby fields such as stamp collecting, there's a gray area between people selling unneeded or duplicate items to refine their collections, and people who are doing it purely to make money.
     
  11. Oct 30, 2012 #10
    Thoughts on International Textbooks?

    http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1838849,00.html

    I am a big advocate for Abebooks.com, but have only recently purchased my first international textbook. Essentially, the international versions are made for countries other than the U.S., where the ridiculously high prices could become a real deterrent towards a student's education. As it turns out, it is a copyright infringement for the publishers selling the books to students in the United States, but the students themselves are entirely in the clear, so long as their usage of the textbook is strictly for personal use, and they don't try to resell it.

    Clearly this forum attracts the student crowd, and purchasing international versions of textbooks appears to be the best choice, monetarily speaking. However, I was wondering what most people's thoughts were:

    Is it justifiable to exploit the system in order to bypass clearly overpriced textbooks, or is it wrong to be misusing textbooks while also knowingly purchasing from publishing countries that are breaking their contracts with the Western companies that gave them the right to sell the books for such low prices?

    EDIT:

    I guess jtbell recently made a thread about a student who is being legally apprehended for selling international versions of textbooks in the U.S. I wasn't aware that he had made this thread, but felt intrigued to make one of my own after purchasing an international textbook for myself.

    Here is his thread: https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=648090&highlight=International+Textbooks
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2012
  12. Oct 30, 2012 #11
    Re: Thoughts on International Textbooks?

    If they can sell the textbooks that cheaply over seas, why can't they sell them that cheaply here?

    Yeah, I buy international edition textbooks every chance I get.
     
  13. Oct 30, 2012 #12
    Re: Thoughts on International Textbooks?

    The only action I have seen being taken towards lowering book prices in the U.S. is making professors more conscientious as to how expensive the textbooks that they're more or less making their students buy, are. Even then, I doubt that any professor would willingly choose a shoddy book over a clearly better one, only to save his students a couple dollars.
     
  14. Oct 30, 2012 #13
    Then someone could completely exploit the companies that originally published those books.

    International editions are notoriously cheaper, and someone could make a profit by buying the international editions and selling them off to unknowing students in the U.S. for prices higher than what they themselves paid.

    ... For example, a student could get away (well, almost get away) with making upwards of $40,000 merely because a company decided to make their textbooks cheaper for Pakistani children.

    Now, I'm all for buying international textbooks, because the textbooks in the U.S. are far too expensive for any money conscious person, but the lawsuit filed against him is entirely justified. There are some instances where copyright laws cannot, and should not, be as simple as "well, he bought it, and he can do whatever he wants with it now."

    This isn't to say that I would be devasted, or entirely against a ruling in favor of him, but publishing companies ought to have some sort of protection from people trying to exploit their international editions. This seems to be a relatively new scenario, because as far as I know, there aren't many situations where a company sells their product regularly for half as much (or less) as they do elsewhere, without actively regulating where the product goes.
     
  15. Oct 30, 2012 #14

    russ_watters

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    Could you explain what you see as being bad about that?
     
  16. Oct 30, 2012 #15
    It's bad business for the company. However, if the outcome is that publishing companies finally decide to quit producing textbooks with such ridiculously high prices, then I suppose it wouldn't be so bad after all.

    But like I said (well, I actually don't know if you read that part, because I added it on, and after refreshing, noticed your response), I'm not entirely against what he's doing, but feel that companies should have some sort of protection. If you literally gave people the go ahead to do whatever they wanted with international editions, then I have no doubt it would be exploited even further than it already has.

    I see that either leading to:
    1.) An increase in price of the international edition, or
    2.) A decrease in price of locally sold editions in the United States, in order to compete.

    Clearly one of those two options is far better than the other, and should publishing companies choose the more morally acceptable option (the better one), then all would be well. However, I wouldn't take my chances on the moral decisions of a corporation.
     
  17. Oct 30, 2012 #16

    Ryan_m_b

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    Agreed. Interestingly I mentioned this issue to someone today and they informed me that this already a big problem in the gaming industry. If a company wants to sell a game in a poorer country then they are going to lose out big time if they charge western prices. However because a lot of these sales can be codes that allow one to download the game it's very simple for people in the west to purchase codes from abroad and legally download the game at a much cheaper price.

    Option 2 above would be a good option for the consumer unless of course it means that the decreased revenue ruins any chance of further products or further products of the same quality.
     
  18. Oct 30, 2012 #17

    russ_watters

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    I tend to see different pricing for different countries as a luxury that IP companies have that few other product-selling companies do. You can sell a DVD that is $20 in the US for $1 in China and profit from it, but you can't sell a $20,000 car for $1,000. I see prevention of a secondary market via regulation as artificially restricting market forces in order to enable companies to cash-in on that. A similar issue exists with drug companies. To me, it is anti-competitive/anti-capitalistic and I think it is a bad idea.
     
  19. Oct 30, 2012 #18

    Vanadium 50

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    That's a possible outcome. The publishing companies deciding not to publish textbooks, I mean. I don't think that's a good outcome.
     
  20. Oct 30, 2012 #19
    That would be a ridiculous outcome, and so unlikely to happen it isn't even worth mentioning. "We can't make quite as much money, so we'll all quit our jobs and close up shop! Yeah, that'll show'em."
     
  21. Oct 30, 2012 #20

    SixNein

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    I agree, and it is an issue with software as well. In fact, I think IP is getting a little ridiculous.
     
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