Thai professor wins in US Supreme Court

Dr Supap Kirtsaeng of Silpakorn University was more persuasive than the best lawyers a US publisher could find, convincing US Supreme Court justices that his book-selling business was legal.

Please join us on our Facebook page

Click button to listen to Copyright and rightclick to download

Thai academic wins US copyright case

Online reporters and agencies

Dr Supap Kirtsaeng, Silpakorn University

WASHINGTON – The United States Supreme Court has slapped down publishers with a decision that Thai student Supap Kirtsaeng was acting completely legally when he sold Thai editions of books in the United States.

Mr Supap, a graduate PhD student in mathematics at the University of Southern California, had his family buy low-cost textbooks in Bangkok and send them to him in Los Angeles, where he sold them at lower-than-US prices to help to finance his studies.

He reportedly earned a profit of US$100,000 with the niche business, selling books on eBay and elsewhere, using the name Bluechristine99 to build his reputation.

The textbook publisher John Wiley and Sons sued Mr Supap – who moved back to Bangkok and joined Silpakorn University after earning his degree claiming the grey-market business needed its permission. Lower court juries slapped Mr Supap with a $600,000 fine, and seized his golf clubs, computer and printer as partial payment.

Wednesday morning (Thailand time), the Supreme Court overturned those penalties and vindicated Mr Supap as acting legally the whole time.

It found the Thai student's view of US copyright law "more persuasive" than the publishing industry's, and it threw out the verdict against him.

The justices even cited the eBay motto: "If you bought it, you own it, and you have a right to sell it."

academic – someone who teaches at a college, or who studies as part of their job นักวิชาการ
copyright – the legal right to control the production and selling of a book, play, film, photograph or piece of music ลิขสิทธิ์
supreme court – the highest court in a country ศาลฎีกา, ศาลสูงสุด
slap down – to criticise or disagree with someone จับผิด
publisher – a person or company that prepares and prints books, magazines, newspapers or electronic products and makes them available to the public ผู้จัดพิมพ์
legally – correct according to the law ตามกฎหมาย
edition – the books, newspapers or magazines, etc. published at one time จำนวนพิมพ์ทั้งหมดต่อครั้ง
graduate student – a student studying for a master's degree or a doctorate นักศึกษาบัณฑิตศึกษา, นักศึกษาปริญญาโท/ปริญญาเอก
textbook – a book that teaches a particular subject and that is used especially in schools and colleges  หนังสือเรียน, ตำรับตำรา
finance – to provide money for something จัดหาเงินทุนให้
reportedly – as reported (often used for showing that you are not certain that something you are reporting is true) ตามที่รายงาน
profit – money that you make from selling goods and services after all your costs have been paid กำไร
niche – an opportunity to sell a particular product or service that no one else is selling
reputation – the opinion people have about how good or bad someone or something is ชื่อเสียง
sue – to take legal action against a person or organisation, especially by making a legal claim for money because of some harm that they have caused you ฟ้องร้อง
degree – the qualification obtained by students who successfully complete a university or college course ปริญญา
claim – to say that something is true although it has not been proved and other people may not believe it อ้าง
grey market – where a product is bought and sold outside of what is allowed by the manufacturer; the business of secretly buying and selling goods in a way that might not be illegal but that is considered morally wrong
permission – allowing someone to do something การอนุญาต,การอนุมัติ,การยินยอม
jury – a group of people who have been chosen to listen to all the facts in a trial in a law court and to decide whether a person is guilty or not guilty, or whether a claim has been proved คณะลูกขุน
slap with a fine – to require someone to pay an amount of money because they have broken the law ปรับเป็นเงิน
seize – to take something using official power ยึด
partial – in part, but not complete บางส่วน
overturn – to officially decide that a legal decision, etc. is not correct, and to make it no longer valid ล้มล้าง
penalty – a punishment, or the usual punishment, for doing something that is against a law โทษ
vindicate – to prove that something is true or that you were right to do something, especially when other people had a different opinion พิสูจน์ว่าเขาไม่ผิด
persuasive – making you want to do or believe a particular thing สามารถชักจูงได้
verdict – a decision by a court of law คำพิพากษา
justice – a judge in a court  ผู้พิพากษา
cite – to mention something as an example กล่าวถึง
motto – a short sentence or phrase that expresses a belief or purpose ภาษิตคำขวัญ

Related search: US Supreme Court, copyright case, Thai academic, Dr Supap Kirtsaeng

About the author

Writer: Terry Fredrickson
Position: Education Marketing and Support Manager