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US top court sides with Thai student

The US Supreme Court is pictured February 27, 2013
The US Supreme Court on Tuesday sided with a Thai student who had resold text books bought abroad and sparked a copyright row with a publisher.

The US Supreme Court on Tuesday sided with a Thai student who had resold text books bought abroad and sparked a copyright row with a publisher.

Supap Kirtsaeng, who arrived in the United States in 1997 to study at the University of Southern California, had asked his friends and family to buy the books, published by John Wiley & Sons, which were cheaper back home.

After receiving them in the mail, he resold them in the United States, reimbursing his suppliers and keeping the profit.

John Wiley & Sons filed a complaint alleging illegal importation and resale without the payment of exclusive distribution rights protected by copyright.

While other lower courts had sided with the publisher, the Supreme Court did not, ruling that "the first sale doctrine applies to copies of a copyrighted work lawfully made abroad."

"The fact that harm has proved limited so far may simply reflect the reluctance of copyright holders to assert geographically based resale rights," it said, noting that museums and libraries were often involved.

The prestigious nine-member panel had heard arguments in the case in late October.

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