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Justice Breyer, Copyright, and Libraries: A Paper by Jonathan Band

photo of US Supreme Court exterior at dusk
US Supreme Court, image CC-BY-SA 3.0 by
Joe Ravi, via Wikimedia Commons

On the occasion of Associate Justice Stephen Breyer retiring at the end of this US Supreme Court term, Jonathan Band, who represents and advises the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) on copyright issues, wrote a reflection on Breyer’s impact on the application of copyright law to libraries. In this brief paper, Band reviews Breyer’s majority opinion in Kirtsaeng v. Wiley (2013), which clarified that the first-sale doctrine applied to copies manufactured abroad, and the dissenting opinion Breyer wrote in Golan v. Holder (2012), in which the associate justice drew heavily on amicus briefs filed by the library community and provided language on the important role of libraries in preserving cultural heritage that can be cited in future cases. These two opinions, Band concludes, “reflect a deep understanding of the impact of copyright on libraries, an appreciation for the historic mission of libraries in promoting cultural heritage and making information accessible to the public, and an effort to apply the copyright law in a manner that does not interfere with this mission.”

Download and read Justice Breyer, Copyright, and Libraries.