I bought book on Amazon. It is somewhat old statistics textbook and also "cheap" Indian edition with sign "unauthorized for circulation outside of India (and few other countries)". I wasn't aware of that when buying and now I am wondering whether request refund.

My case is similar to "Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons", except for the fact that only reseller is based in US, but I am in EU (Poland), where probably there's no such generous first sale exceptions.

Is this transaction legitimate?

Clarification: I am not considering myself at damage. I arguably got book for what it is worth. I am just thinking that if it is violation of copyright, then I could equally have just pirated book for free - so I would consider refunding it and buying a bit more expensive copy for sake of following law.

  • Arguably, yes. What damage have you (the buyer) suffered from having an "unauthorized" copy? (Assuming that the listing didn't have the Indian/Non-Indian edition distinction mentioned).
    – sharur
    Commented Dec 8, 2021 at 17:02
  • Thanks for your input. My problem is a bit different, I clarified question a bit.
    – Krystian
    Commented Dec 8, 2021 at 17:26

1 Answer 1


This is a bit of guesswork, but by default, no Kirtsaeng wouldn't really apply here, and the transaction would not be legitimate. I've actually answered this exact question from a pure US point of view, but your EU reference does throw a wrench into that analysis. Briefly summarizing my answer, Kirtsaeng does indeed shield the importer from liability under US law.

However, here the book is being imported into Poland and so the transaction may not necessarily be legitimate under Polish/EU copyright law. You are correct in assuming that EU first sale doctrine is not as generous as the US counterpart. Per Infosoc (Copyright) Directive Article 4(2), first sale doctrine is only triggered in the EU on first sale within its territory, unlike the US where the doctrine is triggered on first global sale. Therefore, under Article 4(1), the distribution rights of importing a book into Poland from outside the EU remains with the copyright holder.

Edit: Though the transaction might itself be illegal from Amazon's perspective, being a commercial violation of distribution rights, even if you're considered the importer, there's a chance you are yourself not in violation of copyright law. EU law allows countries to implement personal use exceptions (Article 5(2)(a), Article 5(4)). From what I recall, most of continental Europe does indeed implement some form of personal use exception, though details vary by country. I've run out of time for now, but I'll probably later research Polish specific law here (though I don't know the language, so no idea how far I'll get).

Now the reason I said there was some guesswork, is that there are details you wouldn't necessarily be aware of that would make this legal, and Amazon as a large enterprise would generally take into account legal considerations. Just because the book says unauthorized for distribution outside India, doesn't mean the publisher / copyright holder didn't later make separate contractual relations with Amazon to allow it. Additionally, a national copyright collective could potentially have licensed the rights, though I'm much less familiar with the process and law involved there.

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