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Week 8
  • 1 Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons (2013)

    1

     568 U.S. ____ (2013)

    2
    KIRTSAENG, DBA BLUECHRISTINE99
    v.
    JOHN WILEY & SONS, INC.
    3

    SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
    CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT
    No. 11–697.
    Argued October 29, 2012—Decided March 19, 2013

    4
    Syllabus
    5

    [1] The “exclusive rights” that a copyright owner has “to distribute copies . . . of [a] copyrighted work,” 17 U. S. C. §106(3), are qualified by the application of several limitations set out in §§107 through 122, including the “first sale” doctrine, which provides that “the owner of a particular copy or phonorecord lawfully made under this title . . . is entitled, without the authority of the copyright owner, to sell or otherwise dispose of the possession of that copy or phonorecord,” §109(a). Importing a copy made abroad without the copyright owner’s permission is an infringement of §106(3). See §602(a)(1). In Quality King Distributors, Inc. v. L’anza Research Int’l, Inc., 523 U. S. 135, 145, this Court held that §602(a)(1)’s reference to §106(3) incorporates the §§107 through 122 limitations, including §109’s “first sale” doctrine. However, the copy in Quality King was initially manufactured in the United States and then sent abroad and sold.

    6

    Respondent, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., an academic textbook publisher, often assigns to its wholly owned foreign subsidiary (Wiley Asia) rights to publish, print, and sell foreign editions of Wiley’s English language textbooks abroad. Wiley Asia’s books state that they are not to be taken (without permission) into the United States. When petitioner Kirtsaeng moved from Thailand to the United States to study mathematics, he asked friends and family to buy foreign edition English-language textbooks in Thai book shops, where they sold at low prices, and to mail them to him in the United States. He then sold the books, reimbursed his family and friends, and kept the profit.

    7

    Wiley filed suit, claiming that Kirtsaeng’s unauthorized importation and resale of its books was an infringement of Wiley’s §106(3) [2] exclusive right to distribute and §602’s import prohibition. Kirtsaeng replied that because his books were “lawfully made” and acquired legitimately, §109(a)’s “first sale” doctrine permitted importation and resale without Wiley’s further permission. The District Court held that Kirtsaeng could not assert this defense because the doctrine does not apply to goods manufactured abroad. The jury then found that Kirtsaeng had willfully infringed Wiley’s American copyrights and assessed damages. The Second Circuit affirmed, concluding that §109(a)’s “lawfully made under this title” language indicated that the “first sale” doctrine does not apply to copies of American copyrighted works manufactured abroad.

    8

    Held: The “first sale” doctrine applies to copies of a copyrighted work lawfully made abroad. Pp. 7–33.

    9

    (a) Wiley reads “lawfully made under this title” to impose a geographical limitation that prevents §109(a)’s doctrine from applying to Wiley Asia’s books. Kirtsaeng, however, reads the phrase as imposing the non-geographical limitation made “in accordance with” or “in compliance with” the Copyright Act, which would permit the doctrine to apply to copies manufactured abroad with the copyright owner’s permission. Pp. 7–8.

    10

    (b) Section 109(a)’s language, its context, and the “first sale” doctrine’s common-law history favor Kirtsaeng’s reading. Pp. 8–24.

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    (1) Section 109(a) says nothing about geography. “Under” can logically mean “in accordance with.” And a nongeographical interpretation provides each word in the phrase “lawfully made under this title” with a distinct purpose: “lawfully made” suggests an effort to distinguish copies that were made lawfully from those that were not, and “under this title” sets forth the standard of “lawful[ness]” (i.e., the U. S. Copyright Act). This simple reading promotes the traditional copyright objective of combatting piracy and makes word-by-word linguistic sense.

    12

    In contrast, the geographical interpretation bristles with linguistic difficulties. Wiley first reads “under” to mean “in conformance with the Copyright Act where the Copyright Act is applicable.” Wiley then argues that the Act is applicable” only in the United States. However, neither “under” nor any other word in “lawfully made under this title” means “where.” Nor can a geographical limitation be read into the word “applicable.” The fact that the Act does not instantly protect an American copyright holder from unauthorized piracy taking place abroad does not mean the Act is inapplicable to copies made abroad. Indeed, §602(a)(2) makes foreign-printed pirated copies subject to the Copyright Act. And §104 says that works “subject to protection” include unpublished works “without regard to the [author’s] nationality or domicile,” and works “first published” in any of the [3] nearly 180 nations that have signed a copyright treaty with the United States. Pp. 8–12.

    13

    (2) Both historical and contemporary statutory context indicate that Congress did not have geography in mind when writing the present version of §109(a). A comparison of the language in §109(a)’s predecessor and the present provision supports this conclusion. The former version referred to those who are not owners of a copy, but mere possessors who “lawfully obtained” a copy, while the present version covers only owners of a “lawfully made” copy. This new language, including the five words at issue, makes clear that a lessee of a copy will not receive “first sale” protection but one who owns a copy will be protected, provided that the copy was lawfully made.” A nongeographical interpretation is also supported by other provisions of the present statute. For example, the “manufacturing clause,” which limited importation of many copies printed outside the United States, was phased out in an effort to equalize treatment of copies made in America and copies made abroad. But that “equal treatment” principle is difficult to square with a geographical interpretation that would grant an American copyright holder permanent control over the American distribution chain in respect to copies printed abroad but not those printed in America. Finally, the Court normally presumes that the words “lawfully made under this title” carry the same meaning when they appear in different but related sections, and it is unlikely that Congress would have intended the consequences produced by a geographical interpretation. Pp. 12–16.

    14

    (3) A nongeographical reading is also supported by the canon of statutory interpretation that “when a statute covers an issue previously governed by the common law,” it is presumed that “Congress intended to retain the substance of the common law.” Samantar v. Yousuf, 560 U. S. _ . The common-law “first sale” doctrine, which has an impeccable historic pedigree, makes no geographical distinctions. Nor can such distinctions be found in Bobbs-Merrill Co. v. Straus, 210 U. S. 339, where this Court first applied the “first sale” doctrine, or in §109(a)’s predecessor provision, which Congress enacted a year later. Pp. 17–19.

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    (4) Library associations, used-book dealers, technology companies, consumer-goods retailers, and museums point to various ways in which a geographical interpretation would fail to further basic constitutional copyright objectives, in particular “promot[ing] the Progress of Science and useful Arts,” Art. I, §8, cl. 8. For example, a geographical interpretation of the first-sale doctrine would likely require libraries to obtain permission before circulating the many books in their collections that were printed overseas. Wiley counters that such problems have not occurred in the 30 years since a federal court [4] first adopted a geographical interpretation. But the law has not been settled for so long in Wiley’s favor. The Second Circuit in this case was the first Court of Appeals to adopt a purely geographical interpretation. Reliance on the “first sale” doctrine is also deeply embedded in the practices of booksellers, libraries, museums, and retailers, who have long relied on its protection. And the fact that harm has proved limited so far may simply reflect the reluctance of copyright holders to assert geographically based resale rights. Thus, the practical problems described by petitioner and his amici are too serious, extensive, and likely to come about to be dismissed as insignificant— particularly in light of the ever-growing importance of foreign trade to America. Pp. 19–24.

    16

    (c) Several additional arguments that Wiley and the dissent make in support of a geographical interpretation are unpersuasive. Pp. 24– 33. 654 F. 3d 210, reversed and remanded.

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    BREYER, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and THOMAS, ALITO, SOTOMAYOR, and KAGAN, JJ., joined. KAGAN, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which ALITO, J., joined. GINSBURG, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which KENNEDY, J., joined, and in which SCALIA, J., joined except as to Parts III and V–B–1.

    18
    Opinion
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    [1] JUSTICE BREYER delivered the opinion of the Court.
    20

    Section 106 of the Copyright Act grants “the owner of copyright under this title” certain “exclusive rights,” including the right “to distribute copies . . . of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership.” 17 U. S. C. §106(3). These rights are qualified, however, by the application of various limitations set forth in the next several sections of the Act, §§107 through 122. Those sections, typically entitled “Limitations on exclusive rights,” include, for example, the principle of “fair use” (§107), permission for limited library archival reproduction, (§108), and the doctrine at issue here, the “first sale” doctrine (§109).

    21

    Section 109(a) sets forth the “first sale” doctrine as follows:

    22

    “Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106(3) [the section that grants the owner exclusive distribution rights], the owner of a particular copy or phonorecord lawfully made under this title . . . is entitled, without the authority of the copyright owner, to sell or otherwise dispose of the possession of that copy or [2] phonorecord.” (Emphasis added.)

    23

    Thus, even though §106(3) forbids distribution of a copy of, say, the copyrighted novel Herzog without the copyright owner’s permission, §109(a) adds that, once a copy of Herzog has been lawfully sold (or its ownership otherwise lawfully transferred), the buyer of that copy and subsequent owners are free to dispose of it as they wish. In copyright jargon, the “first sale” has “exhausted” the copyright owner’s §106(3) exclusive distribution right.

    24

    What, however, if the copy of Herzog was printed abroad and then initially sold with the copyright owner’s permission? Does the “first sale” doctrine still apply? Is the buyer, like the buyer of a domestically manufactured copy, free to bring the copy into the United States and dispose of it as he or she wishes?

    25

    To put the matter technically, an “importation” provision, §602(a)(1), says that

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    “[i]mportation into the United States, without the authority of the owner of copyright under this title, of copies . . . of a work that have been acquired outside the United States is an infringement of the exclusive right to distribute copies . . . under section 106 . . . .” 17 U. S. C. §602(a)(1) (2006 ed., Supp. V) (emphasis added).

    27

    Thus §602(a)(1) makes clear that importing a copy without permission violates the owner’s exclusive distribution right. But in doing so, §602(a)(1) refers explicitly to the §106(3) exclusive distribution right. As we have just said, §106 is by its terms “[s]ubject to” the various doctrines and principles contained in §§107 through 122, including §109(a)’s “first sale” limitation. Do those same modifications apply—in particular, does the “first sale” modification apply—when considering whether §602(a)(1) prohibits importing a copy?

    28

    In Quality King Distributors, Inc. v. L’anza Research [3] Int’l, Inc., 523 U. S. 135, 145 (1998), we held that §602(a)(1)’s reference to §106(3)’s exclusive distribution right incorporates the later subsections’ limitations, including, in particular, the “first sale” doctrine of §109. Thus, it might seem that, §602(a)(1) notwithstanding, one who buys a copy abroad can freely import that copy into the United States and dispose of it, just as he could had he bought the copy in the United States.

    29

    But Quality King considered an instance in which the copy, though purchased abroad, was initially manufactured in the United States (and then sent abroad and sold). This case is like Quality King but for one important fact. The copies at issue here were manufactured abroad. That fact is important because §109(a) says that the “first sale” doctrine applies to “a particular copy or phonorecord lawfully made under this title.” And we must decide here whether the five words, “lawfully made under this title,” make a critical legal difference.

    30

    Putting section numbers to the side, we ask whether the “first sale” doctrine applies to protect a buyer or other lawful owner of a copy (of a copyrighted work) lawfully manufactured abroad. Can that buyer bring that copy into the United States (and sell it or give it away) without obtaining permission to do so from the copyright owner? Can, for example, someone who purchases, say at a used bookstore, a book printed abroad subsequently resell it without the copyright owner’s permission?

    31

    In our view, the answers to these questions are, yes. We hold that the “first sale” doctrine applies to copies of a copyrighted work lawfully made abroad.

    32
    I
    A
    33

    Respondent, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., publishes academic textbooks. Wiley obtains from its authors various foreign and domestic copyright assignments, licenses and [4] permissions—to the point that we can, for present purposes, refer to Wiley as the relevant American copyright owner. See 654 F. 3d 210, 213, n. 6 (CA2 2011). Wiley often assigns to its wholly owned foreign subsidiary, John Wiley & Sons (Asia) Pte Ltd., rights to publish, print, and sell Wiley’s English language textbooks abroad. App. to Pet. for Cert. 47a–48a. Each copy of a Wiley Asia foreign edition will likely contain language making clear that the copy is to be sold only in a particular country or geographical region outside the United States. 654 F. 3d, at 213.

    34

    For example, a copy of Wiley’s American edition says, “Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved. . . . Printed in the United States of America.” J. Walker, Fundamentals of Physics, p. vi (8th ed. 2008). A copy of Wiley Asia’s Asian edition of that book says:

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    “Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons (Asia) Pte Ltd[.] All rights reserved. This book is authorized for sale in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East only and may be not exported out of these territories. Exportation from or importation of this book to another region without the Publisher’s authorization is illegal and is a violation of the Publisher’s rights. The Publisher may take legal action to enforce its rights. . . . Printed in Asia.” J. Walker, Fundamentals of Physics, p. vi (8th ed. 2008 Wiley Int’l Student ed.).

    36

    Both the foreign and the American copies say:

    37

    “No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means . . . except as permitted under Sections 107 or 108 of the 1976 United States Copyright Act.” Compare, e.g., ibid. (Int’l ed.), with Walker, supra, at vi (American ed.).

    38

    The upshot is that there are two essentially equivalent versions of a Wiley textbook, 654 F. 3d, at 213, each [5] version manufactured and sold with Wiley’s permission: (1) an American version printed and sold in the United States, and (2) a foreign version manufactured and sold abroad. And Wiley makes certain that copies of the second version state that they are not to be taken (without permission) into the United States. Ibid.

    39

    Petitioner, Supap Kirtsaeng, a citizen of Thailand, moved to the United States in 1997 to study mathematics at Cornell University. Ibid. He paid for his education with the help of a Thai Government scholarship which required him to teach in Thailand for 10 years on his return. Brief for Petitioner 7. Kirtsaeng successfully completed his undergraduate courses at Cornell, successfully completed a Ph. D. program in mathematics at the University of Southern California, and then, as promised, returned to Thailand to teach. Ibid. While he was studying in the United States, Kirtsaeng asked his friends and family in Thailand to buy copies of foreign edition English­ language textbooks at Thai book shops, where they sold at low prices, and mail them to him in the United States. Id., at 7–8. Kirtsaeng would then sell them, reimburse his family and friends, and keep the profit. App. to Pet. for Cert. 48a–49a.

    40
    B
    41

    In 2008 Wiley brought this federal lawsuit against Kirtsaeng for copyright infringement. 654 F. 3d, at 213. Wiley claimed that Kirtsaeng’s unauthorized importation of its books and his later resale of those books amounted to an infringement of Wiley’s §106(3) exclusive right to distribute as well as §602’s related import prohibition. 17 U. S. C. §§106(3) (2006 ed.), 602(a) (2006 ed., Supp. V). See also §501 (2006 ed.) (authorizing infringement action). App. 204–211. Kirtsaeng replied that the books he had acquired were “ ‘lawfully made’ ” and that he had acquired them legitimately. Record in No. 1:08–CV–7834–DCP [6] (SDNY), Doc. 14, p. 3. Thus, in his view, §109(a)’s “first sale” doctrine permitted him to resell or otherwise dispose of the books without the copyright owner’s further permission. Id., at 2–3.

    42

    The District Court held that Kirtsaeng could not assert the “first sale” defense because, in its view, that doctrine does not apply to “foreign-manufactured goods” (even if made abroad with the copyright owner’s permission). App. to Pet. for Cert. 72a. The jury then found that Kirtsaeng had willfully infringed Wiley’s American copyrights by selling and importing without authorization copies of eight of Wiley’s copyrighted titles. And it assessed statutory damages of $600,000 ($75,000 per work). 654 F. 3d, at 215.

    43

    On appeal, a split panel of the Second Circuit agreed with the District Court. Id., at 222. It pointed out that §109(a)’s “first sale” doctrine applies only to “the owner of a particular copy . . . lawfully made under this title.Id., at 218–219 (emphasis added). And, in the majority’s view, this language means that the “first sale” doctrine does not apply to copies of American copyrighted works manufactured abroad. Id., at 221. A dissenting judge thought that the words “lawfully made under this title” do not refer “to a place of manufacture” but rather “focu[s] on whether a particular copy was manufactured lawfully under” America’s copyright statute, and that “the lawfulness of the manufacture of a particular copy should be judged by U. S. copyright law.” Id., at 226 (opinion of Murtha, J.).

    44

    We granted Kirtsaeng’s petition for certiorari to consider this question in light of different views among the Circuits. Compare id., at 221 (case below) (“first sale” doctrine does not apply to copies manufactured outside the United States), with Omega S. A. v. Costco Wholesale Corp., 541 F. 3d 982, 986 (CA9 2008) (“first sale” doctrine applies to copies manufactured outside the United States only if an authorized first sale occurs within the United [7] States), aff ’d by an equally divided court, 562 U. S. (2010), and Sebastian Int’l, Inc. v. Consumer Contacts (PTY) Ltd., 847 F. 2d 1093, 1098, n. 1 (CA3 1988) (limitation of the first sale doctrine to copies made within the United States “does not fit comfortably within the scheme of the Copyright Act”).

    45
    II
    46

    We must decide whether the words “lawfully made under this title” restrict the scope of §109(a)’s “first sale” doctrine geographically. The Second Circuit, the Ninth Circuit, Wiley, and the Solicitor General (as amicus) all read those words as imposing a form of geographical limitation. The Second Circuit held that they limit the “first sale” doctrine to particular copies “made in territories in which the Copyright Act is law,” which (the Circuit says) are copies “manufactured domestically,” not “outside of the United States.” 654 F. 3d, at 221–222 (emphasis added). Wiley agrees that those five words limit the “first sale” doctrine “to copies made in conformance with the [United States] Copyright Act where the Copyright Act is applicable,” which (Wiley says) means it does not apply to copies made “outside the United States” and at least not to “foreign production of a copy for distribution exclusively abroad.” Brief for Respondent 15–16. Similarly, the Solicitor General says that those five words limit the “first sale” doctrine’s applicability to copies “ ‘made subject to and in compliance with [the Copyright Act],’ ” which (the Solicitor General says) are copies “made in the United States.” Brief for United States as Amicus Curiae 5 (hereinafter Brief for United States) (emphasis added). And the Ninth Circuit has held that those words limit the “first sale” doctrine’s applicability (1) to copies lawfully made in the United States, and (2) to copies lawfully made outside the United States but initially sold in the United States with the copyright owner’s permission. Denbicare-[8]-U. S. A. Inc. v. Toys “R” Us, Inc., 84 F. 3d 1143, 1149–1150 (1996).

    47

    Under any of these geographical interpretations, §109(a)’s “first sale” doctrine would not apply to the Wiley Asia books at issue here. And, despite an American copyright owner’s permission to make copies abroad, one who buys a copy of any such book or other copyrighted work— whether at a retail store, over the Internet, or at a library sale—could not resell (or otherwise dispose of) that particular copy without further permission.

    48

    Kirtsaeng, however, reads the words “lawfully made under this title” as imposing a non-geographical limitation. He says that they mean made “in accordance with” or “in compliance with” the Copyright Act. Brief for Petitioner 26. In that case, §109(a)’s “first sale” doctrine would apply to copyrighted works as long as their manufacture met the requirements of American copyright law. In particular, the doctrine would apply where, as here, copies are manufactured abroad with the permission of the copyright owner. See §106 (referring to the owner’s right to authorize).

    49

    In our view, §109(a)’s language, its context, and the common-law history of the “first sale” doctrine, taken together, favor a non-geographical interpretation. We also doubt that Congress would have intended to create the practical copyright-related harms with which a geographical interpretation would threaten ordinary scholarly, artistic, commercial, and consumer activities. See Part II– D, infra. We consequently conclude that Kirtsaeng’s nongeographical reading is the better reading of the Act.

    50
    A
    51

    The language of §109(a) read literally favors Kirtsaeng’s nongeographical interpretation, namely, that “lawfully made under this title” means made “in accordance with” or “in compliance with” the Copyright Act. The language of [9] §109(a) says nothing about geography. The word “under” can mean “[i]n accordance with.” 18 Oxford English Dictionary 950 (2d ed. 1989). See also Black’s Law Dictionary 1525 (6th ed. 1990) (“according to”). And a nongeographical interpretation provides each word of the five-word phrase with a distinct purpose. The first two words of the phrase, “lawfully made,” suggest an effort to distinguish those copies that were made lawfully from those that were not, and the last three words, “under this title,” set forth the standard of “lawful[ness].” Thus, the nongeographical reading is simple, it promotes a traditional copyright objective (combatting piracy), and it makes word-by-word linguistic sense.

    52

    The geographical interpretation, however, bristles with linguistic difficulties. It gives the word “lawfully” little, if any, linguistic work to do. (How could a book be unlawfully “made under this title”?) It imports geography into a statutory provision that says nothing explicitly about it. And it is far more complex than may at first appear.

    53

    To read the clause geographically, Wiley, like the Second Circuit and the Solicitor General, must first emphasize the word “under.” Indeed, Wiley reads “under this title” to mean “in conformance with the Copyright Act where the Copyright Act is applicable.” Brief for Respondnet 15. Wiley must then take a second step, arguing that the Act is applicable” only in the United States. Ibid. And the Solicitor General must do the same. See Brief for United States 6 (“A copy is ‘lawfully made under this title’ if Title 17 governs the copy’s creation and the copy is made in compliance with Title 17’s requirements”). See also post, at 7 (GINSBURG, J., dissenting) (“under” describes something “governed or regulated by another”).

    54

    One difficulty is that neither “under” nor any other word in the phrase means “where.” See, e.g., 18 Oxford English Dictionary, supra, at 947–952 (definition of “under”). It might mean “subject to,” see post, at 6, but as this [10] Court has repeatedly acknowledged, the word evades a uniform, consistent meaning. See Kucana v. Holder, 558 U. S. 233, 245 (2010) (“ ‘under’ is chameleon”); Ardestani v. INS, 502 U. S. 129, 135 (1991) (“under” has “many dictionary definitions” and “must draw its meaning from its context”).

    55

    A far more serious difficulty arises out of the uncertainty and complexity surrounding the second step’s effort to read the necessary geographical limitation into the word “applicable” (or the equivalent). Where, precisely, is the Copyright Act “applicable”? The Act does not instantly protect an American copyright holder from unauthorized piracy taking place abroad. But that fact does not mean the Act is inapplicable to copies made abroad. As a matter of ordinary English, one can say that a statute imposing, say, a tariff upon “any rhododendron grown in Nepal” applies to all Nepalese rhododendrons. And, similarly, one can say that the American Copyright Act is applicable to all pirated copies, including those printed overseas. Indeed, the Act itself makes clear that (in the Solicitor General’s language) foreign-printed pirated copies are “sub ject to” the Act. §602(a)(2) (2006 ed., Supp. V) (referring to importation of copies “the making of which either constituted an infringement of copyright, or which would have constituted an infringement of copyright if this title had been applicable”); Brief for United States 5. See also post, at 6 (suggesting that “made under” may be read as “subject to”).

    56

    The appropriateness of this linguistic usage is underscored by the fact that §104 of the Act itself says that works “subject to protection under this title” include unpublished works “without regard to the nationality or domicile of the author,” and works “first published” in any one of the nearly 180 nations that have signed a copyright treaty with the United States. §§104(a), (b) (2006 ed.) (emphasis added); §101 (2006 ed., Supp. V) (defining [11] “treaty party”); U. S. Copyright Office, Circular No. 38A, International Copyright Relations of the United States (2010). Thus, ordinary English permits us to say that the Act “applies” to an Irish manuscript lying in its author’s Dublin desk drawer as well as to an original recording of a ballet performance first made in Japan and now on display in a Kyoto art gallery. Cf. 4 M. Nimmer & D. Nimmer, Copyright §17.02, pp. 17–18, 17–19 (2012) (herein after Nimmer on Copyright) (noting that the principle that “copyright laws do not have any extraterritorial operation” “requires some qualification”).

    57

    The Ninth Circuit’s geographical interpretation produces still greater linguistic difficulty. As we said, that Circuit interprets the “first sale” doctrine to cover both (1) copies manufactured in the United States and (2) copies manufactured abroad but first sold in the United States with the American copyright owner’s permission. Denbicare U. S. A., 84 F. 3d, at 1149–1150. See also Brief for Respondent 16 (suggesting that the clause at least excludes “the foreign production of a copy for distribution exclusively abroad”); id., at 51 (the Court need “not decide whether the copyright owner would be able to restrict further distribution” in the case of “a downstream domestic purchaser of authorized imports”); Brief for Petitioner in Costco Wholesale Corp. v. Omega, S. A., O. T. 2010, No. 08–1423, p. 12 (excepting imported copies “made by unrelated foreign copyright holders” (emphasis deleted)).

    58

    We can understand why the Ninth Circuit may have thought it necessary to add the second part of its definition. As we shall later describe, see Part II–D, infra, without some such qualification a copyright holder could prevent a buyer from domestically reselling or even giving away copies of a video game made in Japan, a film made in Germany, or a dress (with a design copyright) made in China, even if the copyright holder has granted permission for the foreign manufacture, importation, and an initial [12] domestic sale of the copy. A publisher such as Wiley would be free to print its books abroad, allow their importation and sale within the United States, but prohibit students from later selling their used texts at a campus bookstore. We see no way, however, to reconcile this half-geographical/half-nongeographical interpretation with the language of the phrase, “lawfully made under this title.” As a matter of English, it would seem that those five words either do cover copies lawfully made abroad or they do not.

    59

    In sum, we believe that geographical interpretations create more linguistic problems than they resolve. And considerations of simplicity and coherence tip the purely linguistic balance in Kirtsaeng’s, nongeographical, favor.

    60
    B
    61

    Both historical and contemporary statutory context indicate that Congress, when writing the present version of §109(a), did not have geography in mind. In respect to history, we compare §109(a)’s present language with the language of its immediate predecessor. That predecessor said:

    62

    “[N]othing in this Act shall be deemed to forbid, prevent, or restrict the transfer of any copy of a copyrighted work the possession of which has been lawfully obtained.” Copyright Act of 1909, §41, 35 Stat. 1084 (emphasis added).

    63

    See also Copyright Act of 1947, §27, 61 Stat. 660. The predecessor says nothing about geography (and Wiley does not argue that it does). So we ask whether Congress, in changing its language implicitly introduced a geographical limitation that previously was lacking. See also Part II–C, infra (discussing 1909 codification of common-law principle). A comparison of language indicates that it did not. The [13] predecessor says that the “first sale” doctrine protects “the transfer of any copy the possession of which has been lawfully obtained.” The present version says that “the owner of a particular copy or phonorecord lawfully made under this title is entitled to sell or otherwise dispose of the possession of that copy or phonorecord.” What does this change in language accomplish?

    64

    The language of the former version referred to those who are not owners of a copy, but mere possessors who “lawfully obtained” a copy. The present version covers only those who are owners of a “lawfully made” copy. Whom does the change leave out? Who might have lawfully obtained a copy of a copyrighted work but not owned that copy? One answer is owners of movie theaters, who during the 1970’s (and before) often leased films from movie distributors or filmmakers. See S. Donahue, American Film Distribution 134, 177 (1987) (describing producer-distributer and distributer-exhibitor agreements); Note, The Relationship Between Motion Picture Distribution and Exhibition: An Analysis of the Effects of Anti-Blind Bidding Legislation, 9 Comm/Ent. L. J. 131, 135 (1986). Because the theater owners had “lawfully obtained” their copies, the earlier version could be read as allowing them to sell that copy, i.e., it might have given them “first sale” protection. Because the theater owners were lessees, not owners, of their copies, the change in language makes clear that they (like bailees and other lessees) cannot take advantage of the “first sale” doctrine. (Those who find legislative history useful will find confirmation in, e.g., House Committee on the Judiciary, Copyright Law Revision, Supplementary Report of the Register of Copyrights on the General Revision of the U. S. Copyright Law: 1965 Revision Bill, 89th Cong., 1st Sess., pt. 6, p. 30 (Comm. Print 1965) (hereinafter Copyright Law Revision) (“[W]here a person has rented a print of a motion picture from the copyright owner, he would have no [14] right to lend, rent, sell, or otherwise dispose of the print without first obtaining the copyright owner’s permission”). See also Platt & Munk Co. v. Republic Graphics, Inc., 315 F. 2d 847, 851 (CA2 1963) (Friendly, J.) (pointing out predecessor statute’s leasing problem)).

    65

    This objective perfectly well explains the new language of the present version, including the five words here at issue. Section 109(a) now makes clear that a lessee of a copy will not receive “first sale” protection but one who owns a copy will receive “first sale” protection, provided, of course, that the copy was “lawfully made” and not pirated. The new language also takes into account that a copy may be “lawfully made under this title” when the copy, say of a phonorecord, comes into its owner’s possession through use of a compulsory license, which “this title” provides for elsewhere, namely, in §115. Again, for those who find legislative history useful, the relevant legislative report makes this clear. H. R. Rep. No. 94–1476, p. 79 (1976) (“For example, any resale of an illegally ‘pirated’ phonorecord would be an infringement, but the disposition of a phonorecord legally made under the compulsory licensing provisions of section 115 would not”).

    66

    Other provisions of the present statute also support a nongeographical interpretation. For one thing, the statute phases out the “manufacturing clause,” a clause that appeared in earlier statutes and had limited importation of many copies (of copyrighted works) printed outside the United States. §601, 90 Stat. 2588 (“Prior to July 1, 1982 . . . the importation into or public distribution in the United States of copies of a work consisting preponderantly of nondramatic literary material . . . is prohibited unless the portions consisting of such material have been manufactured in the United States or Canada”). The phasing out of this clause sought to equalize treatment of copies manufactured in America and copies manufactured abroad. See H. R. Rep. No. 94–1476, at 165–166.

    67

    [15] The “equal treatment” principle, however, is difficult to square with a geographical interpretation of the “first sale” clause that would grant the holder of an American copyright (perhaps a foreign national, see supra, at 10) permanent control over the American distribution chain (sales, resales, gifts, and other distribution) in respect to copies printed abroad but not in respect to copies printed in America. And it is particularly difficult to believe that Congress would have sought this unequal treatment while saying nothing about it and while, in a related clause (the manufacturing phase-out), seeking the opposite kind of policy goal. Cf. Golan v. Holder, 565 U. S., (2012) (slip op., at 30) (Congress has moved from a copyright regime that, prior to 1891, entirely excluded foreign works from U. S. copyright protection to a regime that now “ensure[s] that most works, whether foreign or domestic, would be governed by the same legal regime” (emphasis added)).

    68

    Finally, we normally presume that the words “lawfully made under this title” carry the same meaning when they appear in different but related sections. Department of Revenue of Ore. v. ACF Industries, Inc., 510 U. S. 332, 342 (1994). But doing so here produces surprising consequences. Consider:

    69

    (1) Section 109(c) says that, despite the copyright owner’s exclusive right “to display” a copyrighted work (provided in §106(5)), the owner of a particular copy “lawfully made under this title” may publicly display it without further authorization. To interpret these words geographically would mean that one who buys a copyrighted work of art, a poster, or even a bumper sticker, in Canada, in Europe, in Asia, could not display it in America without the copyright owner’s further authorization.

    (2) Section 109(e) specifically provides that the owner [16] of a particular copy of a copyrighted video arcade game “lawfully made under this title” may “publicly perform or display that game in coin-operated equipment” without the authorization of the copyright owner. To interpret these words geographically means that an arcade owner could not (“without the authority of the copyright owner”) perform or display arcade games (whether new or used) originally made in Japan. Cf. Red Baron Franklin Park, Inc. v. Taito Corp., 883 F. 2d 275 (CA4 1989).

    (3) Section 110(1) says that a teacher, without the copyright owner’s authorization, is allowed to perform or display a copyrighted work (say, an audiovisual work) “in the course of face-to-face teaching activities”—unless the teacher knowingly used “a copy that was not lawfully made under this title.” To interpret these words geographically would mean that the teacher could not (without further authorization) use a copy of a film during class if the copy was lawfully made in Canada, Mexico, Europe, Africa, or Asia.

    (4) In its introductory sentence, §106 provides the Act’s basic exclusive rights to an “owner of a copyright under this title.” The last three words cannot support a geographic interpretation.

    70

    Wiley basically accepts the first three readings, but argues that Congress intended the restrictive consequences. And it argues that context simply requires that the words of the fourth example receive a different interpretation. Leaving the fourth example to the side, we shall explain in Part II–D, infra, why we find it unlikely that Congress would have intended these, and other related consequences.

    71
    [17] C
    72

    A relevant canon of statutory interpretation favors a nongeographical reading. “[W]hen a statute covers an issue previously governed by the common law,” we must presume that “Congress intended to retain the substance of the common law.” Samantar v. Yousuf, 560 U. S. _ , n. 13 (2010) (slip op., at 14, n. 13). See also Isbrandtsen Co. v. Johnson, 343 U. S. 779, 783 (1952) (“Statutes which invade the common law . . . are to be read with a presumption favoring the retention of long established and familiar principles, except when a statutory purpose to the contrary is evident”).

    73

    The “first sale” doctrine is a common-law doctrine with an impeccable historic pedigree. In the early 17th century Lord Coke explained the common law’s refusal to permit restraints on the alienation of chattels. Referring to Littleton, who wrote in the 15th century, Gray, Two Contributions to Coke Studies, 72 U. Chi. L. Rev. 1127, 1135 (2005), Lord Coke wrote:

    74

    “[If] a man be possessed of . . . a horse, or of any other chattell . . . and give or sell his whole interest . . . therein upon condition that the Donee or Vendee shall not alien[ate] the same, the [condition] is voi[d], because his whole interest . . . is out of him, so as he hath no possibilit[y] of a Reverter, and it is against Trade and Traffi[c], and bargaining and contracting betwee[n] man and man: and it is within the reason of our Author that it should ouster him of all power given to him.” 1 E. Coke, Institutes of the Laws of England §360, p. 223 (1628).

    75

    A law that permits a copyright holder to control the resale or other disposition of a chattel once sold is similarly “against Trade and Traffi[c], and bargaining and contracting.” Ibid.

    76

    With these last few words, Coke emphasizes the im-[18]-portance of leaving buyers of goods free to compete with each other when reselling or otherwise disposing of those goods. American law too has generally thought that competition, including freedom to resell, can work to the advantage of the consumer. See, e.g., Leegin Creative Leather Products, Inc. v. PSKS, Inc., 551 U. S. 877, 886 (2007) (restraints with “manifestly anticompetitive effects” are per se illegal; others are subject to the rule of reason (internal quotation marks omitted)); 1 P. Areeda & H. Hovenkamp, Antitrust Law ¶100, p. 4 (3d ed. 2006) (“[T]he principal objective of antitrust policy is to maximize consumer welfare by encouraging firms to behave competitively”).

    77

    The “first sale” doctrine also frees courts from the administrative burden of trying to enforce restrictions upon difficult-to-trace, readily movable goods. And it avoids the selective enforcement inherent in any such effort. Thus, it is not surprising that for at least a century the “first sale” doctrine has played an important role in American copyright law. See Bobbs-Merrill Co. v. Straus, 210 U. S. 339 (1908); Copyright Act of 1909, §41, 35 Stat. 1084. See also Copyright Law Revision, Further Discussions and Comments on Preliminary Draft for Revised U. S. Copyright Law, 88th Cong., 2d Sess., pt. 4, p. 212 (Comm. Print 1964) (Irwin Karp of Authors’ League of America expressing concern for “the very basic concept of copyright law that, once you’ve sold a copy legally, you can’t restrict its resale”).

    78

    The common-law doctrine makes no geographical distinctions; nor can we find any in Bobbs-Merrill (where this Court first applied the “first sale” doctrine) or in §109(a)’s predecessor provision, which Congress enacted a year later. See supra, at 12. Rather, as the Solicitor General acknowledges, “a straightforward application of Bobbs-Merrill” would not preclude the “first sale” defense from applying to authorized copies made overseas. Brief for [19] United States 27. And we can find no language, context, purpose, or history that would rebut a “straightforward application” of that doctrine here.

    79

    The dissent argues that another principle of statutory interpretation works against our reading, and points out that elsewhere in the statute Congress used different words to express something like the non-geographical reading we adopt. Post, at 8–9 (quoting §602(a)(2) (prohibiting the importation of copies “the making of which either constituted an infringement of copyright, or which would have constituted an infringement of copyright if this title had been applicable” (emphasis deleted))). Hence, Congress, the dissent believes, must have meant §109(a)’s different language to mean something different (such as the dissent’s own geographical interpretation of §109(a)). We are not aware, however, of any canon of interpretation that forbids interpreting different words used in different parts of the same statute to mean roughly the same thing. Regardless, were there such a canon, the dissent’s interpretation of §109(a) would also violate it. That is because Congress elsewhere in the 1976 Act included the words “manufactured in the United States or Canada,” 90 Stat. 2588, which express just about the same geographical thought that the dissent reads into §109(a)’s very different language.

    80
    D
    81

    Associations of libraries, used-book dealers, technology companies, consumer-goods retailers, and museums point to various ways in which a geographical interpretation would fail to further basic constitutional copyright objectives, in particular “promot[ing] the Progress of Science and useful Arts.” U. S. Const., Art. I, §8, cl. 8.

    82

    The American Library Association tells us that library collections contain at least 200 million books published abroad (presumably, many were first published in one of [20] the nearly 180 copyright-treaty nations and enjoy American copyright protection under 17 U. S. C. §104, see supra, at 10); that many others were first published in the United States but printed abroad because of lower costs; and that a geographical interpretation will likely require the libraries to obtain permission (or at least create significant uncertainty) before circulating or otherwise distributing these books. Brief for American Library Association et al. as Amici Curiae 4, 15–20. Cf. id., at 16–20, 28 (discussing limitations of potential defenses, including the fair use and archival exceptions, §§107–108). See also Library and Book Trade Almanac 511 (D. Bogart ed., 55th ed. 2010) (during 2000–2009 “a significant amount of book printing moved to foreign nations”).

    83

    How, the American Library Association asks, are the libraries to obtain permission to distribute these millions of books? How can they find, say, the copyright owner of a foreign book, perhaps written decades ago? They may not know the copyright holder’s present address. Brief for American Library Association 15 (many books lack indication of place of manufacture; “no practical way to learn where [a] book was printed”). And, even where addresses can be found, the costs of finding them, contacting owners, and negotiating may be high indeed. Are the libraries to stop circulating or distributing or displaying the millions of books in their collections that were printed abroad?

    84

    Used-book dealers tell us that, from the time when Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson built commercial and personal libraries of foreign books, American readers have bought used books published and printed abroad. Brief for Powell’s Books Inc. et al. as Amici Curiae 7 (citing M. Stern, Antiquarian Bookselling in the United States (1985)). The dealers say that they have “operat[ed] . . . for centuries” under the assumption that the “first sale” doctrine applies. Brief for Powell’s Books 7. But under a geographical interpretation a contemporary [21] tourist who buys, say, at Shakespeare and Co. (in Paris), a dozen copies of a foreign book for American friends might find that she had violated the copyright law. The used book dealers cannot easily predict what the foreign copyright holder may think about a reader’s effort to sell a used copy of a novel. And they believe that a geographical interpretation will injure a large portion of the used-book business.

    85

    Technology companies tell us that “automobiles, microwaves, calculators, mobile phones, tablets, and personal computers” contain copyrightable software programs or packaging. Brief for Public Knowledge et al. as Amici Curiae 10. See also Brief for Association of Service and Computer Dealers International, Inc., et al. as Amici Curiae 2. Many of these items are made abroad with the American copyright holder’s permission and then sold and imported (with that permission) to the United States. Brief for Retail Litigation Center, Inc., et al. as Amici Curiae 4. A geographical interpretation would prevent the resale of, say, a car, without the permission of the holder of each copyright on each piece of copyrighted automobile software. Yet there is no reason to believe that foreign auto manufacturers regularly obtain this kind of permission from their software component suppliers, and Wiley did not indicate to the contrary when asked. See Tr. of Oral Arg. 29–30. Without that permission a foreign car owner could not sell his or her used car.

    86

    Retailers tell us that over $2.3 trillion worth of foreign goods were imported in 2011. Brief for Retail Litigation Center 8. American retailers buy many of these goods after a first sale abroad. Id., at 12. And, many of these items bear, carry, or contain copyrighted “packaging, logos, labels, and product inserts and instructions for [the use of ] everyday packaged goods from floor cleaners and health and beauty products to breakfast cereals.” Id., at 10–11. The retailers add that American sales of more [22] traditional copyrighted works, “such as books, recorded music, motion pictures, and magazines” likely amount to over $220 billion. Id., at 9. See also id., at 10 (electronic game industry is $16 billion). A geographical interpretation would subject many, if not all, of them to the disruptive impact of the threat of infringement suits. Id., at 12.

    87

    Art museum directors ask us to consider their efforts to display foreign-produced works by, say, Cy Twombly, René Magritte, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and others. See supra, at 10 (describing how §104 often makes such works “subject to” American copyright protection). A geographical interpretation, they say, would require the museums to obtain permission from the copyright owners before they could display the work, see supra, at 15—even if the copyright owner has already sold or donated the work to a foreign museum. Brief for Association of Art Museum Directors et al. as Amici Curiae 10–11. What are the museums to do, they ask, if the artist retained the copyright, if the artist cannot be found, or if a group of heirs is arguing about who owns which copyright? Id., at 14.

    88

    These examples, and others previously mentioned, help explain why Lord Coke considered the “first sale” doctrine necessary to protect “Trade and Traffi[c], and bargaining and contracting,” and they help explain why American copyright law has long applied that doctrine. Cf. supra, at 17–18.

    89

    Neither Wiley nor any of its many amici deny that a geographical interpretation could bring about these “horribles”—at least in principle. Rather, Wiley essentially says that the list is artificially invented. Brief for Respondent 51–52. It points out that a federal court first adopted a geographical interpretation more than 30 years ago. CBS, Inc. v. Scorpio Music Distributors, Inc., 569 F. Supp. 47, 49 (ED Pa. 1983), summarily aff ’d, 738 F. 2d 424 (CA3 1984) (table). Yet, it adds, these problems have not occurred. Why not? Because, says Wiley, the prob-[23]-lems and threats are purely theoretical; they are unlikely to reflect reality. See also post, at 30–31.

    90

    We are less sanguine. For one thing, the law has not been settled for long in Wiley’s favor. The Second Circuit, in its decision below, is the first Court of Appeals to adopt a purely geographical interpretation. The Third Circuit has favored a nongeographical interpretation. Sebastian Int’l, 847 F. 2d 1093. The Ninth Circuit has favored a modified geographical interpretation with a nongeographical (but textually unsustainable) corollary designed to diminish the problem. Denbicare U. S. A., 84 F. 3d 1143. See supra, at 11–12. And other courts have hesitated to adopt, and have cast doubt upon, the validity of the geographical interpretation. Pearson Educ., Inc. v. Liu, 656 F. Supp. 2d 407 (SDNY 2009); Red-Baron Franklin Park, Inc. v. Taito Corp., No. 88–0156–A, 1988 WL 167344, *3 (ED Va. 1988), rev’d on other grounds, 883 F. 2d 275 (CA4 1989).

    91

    For another thing, reliance upon the “first sale” doctrine is deeply embedded in the practices of those, such as book sellers, libraries, museums, and retailers, who have long relied upon its protection. Museums, for example, are not in the habit of asking their foreign counterparts to check with the heirs of copyright owners before sending, e.g., a Picasso on tour. Brief for Association of Art Museum Directors 11–12. That inertia means a dramatic change is likely necessary before these institutions, instructed by their counsel, would begin to engage in the complex permission-verifying process that a geographical interpretation would demand. And this Court’s adoption of the geographical interpretation could provide that dramatic change. These intolerable consequences (along with the absurd result that the copyright owner can exercise downstream control even when it authorized the import or first sale) have understandably led the Ninth Circuit, the Solicitor General as amicus, and the dissent to [24] adopt textual readings of the statute that attempt to mitigate these harms. Brief for United States 27–28; post, at 24–28. But those readings are not defensible, for they require too many unprecedented jumps over linguistic and other hurdles that in our view are insurmountable. See, e.g., post, at 26 (acknowledging that its reading of §106(3) “significantly curtails the independent effect of §109(a)”).

    92

    Finally, the fact that harm has proved limited so far may simply reflect the reluctance of copyright holders so far to assert geographically based resale rights. They may decide differently if the law is clarified in their favor. Regardless, a copyright law that can work in practice only if unenforced is not a sound copyright law. It is a law that would create uncertainty, would bring about selective enforcement, and, if widely unenforced, would breed disrespect for copyright law itself.

    93

    Thus, we believe that the practical problems that petitioner and his amici have described are too serious, too extensive, and too likely to come about for us to dismiss them as insignificant—particularly in light of the evergrowing importance of foreign trade to America. See The World Bank, Imports of goods and services (% of GDP) (imports in 2011 18% of U. S. gross domestic product compared to 11% in 1980), online at http:// data.worldbank.org/indicator/NE.IMP.GNFS.ZS? (as visited Mar. 15, 2013, and available in Clerk of Court’s case file). The upshot is that copyright-related consequences along with language, context, and interpretive canons argue strongly against a geographical interpretation of §109(a).

    94
    III
    95

    Wiley and the dissent make several additional important arguments in favor of the geographical interpretation. First, they say that our Quality King decision strongly supports its geographical interpretation. In that case [25] we asked whether the Act’s “importation provision,” now §602(a)(1) (then §602(a)), barred importation (without permission) of a copyrighted item (labels affixed to hair care products) where an American copyright owner authorized the first sale and export of hair care products with copyrighted labels made in the United States, and where a buyer sought to import them back into the United States without the copyright owner’s permission. 523 U. S., at 138–139.

    96

    We held that the importation provision did not prohibit sending the products back into the United States (without the copyright owner’s permission). That section says:

    97

    “Importation into the United States, without the authority of the owner of copyright under this title, of copies or phonorecords of a work that have been acquired outside the United States is an infringement of the exclusive right to distribute copies or phonorecords under section 106.” 17 U. S. C. §602(a)(1) (2006 ed., Supp. V) (emphasis added). See also §602(a) (1994 ed.).

    98

    We pointed out that this section makes importation an infringement of the “exclusive right to distribute . . . under 106.” We noted that §109(a)’s “first sale” doctrine limits the scope of the §106 exclusive distribution right. We took as given the fact that the products at issue had at least once been sold. And we held that consequently, importation of the copyrighted labels does not violate §602(a)(1). 523 U. S., at 145.

    99

    In reaching this conclusion we endorsed Bobbs-Merrill and its statement that the copyright laws were not “intended to create a right which would permit the holder of the copyright to fasten, by notice in a book . . . a restriction upon the subsequent alienation of the subject-matter of copyright after the owner had parted with the title to one who had acquired full dominion over it.” 210 U. S., at [26] 349–350.

    100

    We also explained why we rejected the claim that our interpretation would make §602(a)(1) pointless. Those advancing that claim had pointed out that the 1976 Copy right Act amendments retained a prior anti-piracy provision, prohibiting the importation of pirated copies. Quality King, supra, at 146. Thus, they said, §602(a)(1) must prohibit the importation of lawfully made copies, for to allow the importation of those lawfully made copies after a first sale, as Quality King’s holding would do, would leave §602(a)(1) without much to prohibit. It would become superfluous, without any real work to do.

    101

    We do not believe that this argument is a strong one. Under Quality King’s interpretation, §602(a)(1) would still forbid importing (without permission, and subject to the exceptions in §602(a)(3)) copies lawfully made abroad, for example, where (1) a foreign publisher operating as the licensee of an American publisher prints copies of a book overseas but, prior to any authorized sale, seeks to send them to the United States; (2) a foreign printer or other manufacturer (if not the “owner” for purposes of §109(a), e.g., before an authorized sale) sought to send copyrighted goods to the United States; (3) “a book publisher transports copies to a wholesaler” and the wholesaler (not yet the owner) sends them to the United States, see Copyright Law Revision, pt. 4, at 211 (giving this example); or (4) a foreign film distributor, having leased films for distribution, or any other licensee, consignee, or bailee sought to send them to the United States. See, e.g., 2 Nimmer on Copyright §8.12[B][1][a], at 8–159 (“Section 109(a) provides that the distribution right may be exercised solely with respect to the initial disposition of copies of a work, not to prevent or restrict the resale or other further transfer of possession of such copies”). These examples show that §602(a)(1) retains significance. We concede it has less significance than the dissent believes appropriate, but the [27] dissent also adopts a construction of §106(3) that “significantly curtails” §109(a)’s effect, post, at 26, and so limits the scope of that provision to a similar, or even greater, degree.

    102

    In Quality King we rejected the “superfluous” argument for similar reasons. But, when rejecting it, we said that, where an author gives exclusive American distribution rights to an American publisher and exclusive British distribution rights to a British publisher, “presumably only those [copies] made by the publisher of the United States edition would be ‘lawfully made under this title’ within the meaning of §109(a).” 523 U. S., at 148 (emphasis added). Wiley now argues that this phrase in the Quality King opinion means that books published abroad (under license) must fall outside the words “lawfully made under this title” and that we have consequently already given those words the geographical interpretation that it favors.

    103

    We cannot, however, give the Quality King statement the legal weight for which Wiley argues. The language “lawfully made under this title” was not at issue in Quality King; the point before us now was not then fully argued; we did not canvas the considerations we have here set forth; we there said nothing to suggest that the example assumes a “first sale”; and we there hedged our statement with the word “presumably.” Most importantly, the statement is pure dictum. It is dictum contained in a rebuttal to a counterargument. And it is unnecessary dictum even in that respect. Is the Court having once written dicta calling a tomato a vegetable bound to deny that it is a fruit forever after?

    104

    To the contrary, we have written that we are not necessarily bound by dicta should more complete argument demonstrate that the dicta is not correct. Central Va. Community College v. Katz, 546 U. S. 356, 363 (2006) (“[W]e are not bound to follow our dicta in a prior case in [28] which the point now at issue was not fully debated”); Humphrey’s Executor v. United States, 295 U. S. 602, 627–628 (1935) (rejecting, under stare decisis, dicta, “which may be followed if sufficiently persuasive but which are not controlling”). And, given the bit part that our Quality King statement played in our Quality King decision, we believe the view of stare decisis set forth in these opinions applies to the matter now before us.

    105

    Second, Wiley and the dissent argue (to those who consider legislative history) that the Act’s legislative history supports their interpretation. But the historical events to which it points took place more than a decade before the enactment of the Act and, at best, are inconclusive.

    106

    During the 1960’s, representatives of book, record, and film industries, meeting with the Register of Copyrights to discuss copyright revision, complained about the difficulty of dividing international markets. Copyright Law Revision Discussion and Comments on Report of the Register of Copyrights on the General Revision of the U. S. Copyright Law, 88th Cong., 1st Sess., pt. 2, p. 212 (Comm. Print 1963) (English editions of “particular” books “fin[d]” their “way into this country”); id., at 213 (works “pub li[shed] in a country where there is no copyright protection of any sort” are put into “the free stream of commerce” and “shipped to the United States”); ibid. (similar concern in respect to films).

    107

    The then-Register of Copyrights, Abraham Kaminstein, found these examples “very troubl[ing].” Ibid. And the Copyright Office released a draft provision that it said “deals with the matter of the importation for distribution in the United States of foreign copies that were made under proper authority but that, if sold in the United States, would be sold in contravention of the rights of the copyright owner who holds the exclusive right to sell copies in the United States.” Id., pt. 4, at 203. That draft version, without reference to §106, simply forbids unau-[29]-thorized imports. It said:

    108

    “Importation into the United States of copies or records of a work for the purpose of distribution to the public shall, if such articles are imported without the authority of the owner of the exclusive right to distribute copies or records under this title, constitute an infringement of copyright actionable under section 35 [17 U. S. C. §501].” Id., Preliminary Draft for Revised U. S. Copyright Law and Discussions and Comments, 88th Cong., 2d Sess., pt. 3, pp. 32–33 (Comm. Print 1964).

    109

    In discussing the draft, some of those present expressed concern about its effect on the “first sale” doctrine. For example, Irwin Karp, representing the Authors League of America asked, “If a German jobber lawfully buys copies from a German publisher, are we not running into the problem of restricting his transfer of his lawfully obtained copies?” Id., pt. 4, at 211. The Copyright Office representative replied, “This could vary from one situation to another, I guess. I should guess, for example, that if a book publisher transports [i.e., does not sell] copies to a wholesaler [i.e., a nonowner], this is not yet the kind of transaction that exhausts the right to control disposition.” Ibid. (emphasis added).

    110

    The Office later withdrew the draft, replacing it with a draft, which, by explicitly referring to §106, was similar to the provision that became law, now §602(a)(1). The Office noted in a report that, under the new draft, importation of a copy (without permission) “would violate the exclusive rights of the U. S. copyright owner . . . where the copyright owner had authorized the making of copies in a foreign country for distribution only in that country.” Id., pt. 6, at 150.

    111

    Still, that part of the report says nothing about the “first sale” doctrine, about §109(a), or about the five words,-[30] “lawfully made under this title.” And neither the report nor its accompanying 1960’s draft answers the question before us here. Cf. Quality King, 523 U. S., at 145 (without those five words, the import clause, via its reference to §106, imports the “first sale” doctrine).

    112

    But to ascertain the best reading of §109(a), rather than dissecting the remarks of industry representatives concerning §602 at congressional meetings held 10 years before the statute was enacted, see post, at 13–16, we would give greater weight to the congressional report accompanying §109(a), written a decade later when Congress passed the new law. That report says:

    113

    “Section 109(a) restates and confirms the principle that, where the copyright owner has transferred ownership of a particular copy or phonorecord of a work, the person to whom the copy or phonorecord is transferred is entitled to dispose of it by sale, rental, or any other means. Under this principle, which has been established by the court decisions and . . . the present law, the copyright owner’s exclusive right of public distribution would have no effect upon anyone who owns ‘a particular copy or phonorecord lawfully made under this title’ and who wishes to transfer it to someone else or to destroy it.

    . . . . . “To come within the scope of section 109(a), a copy or phonorecord must have been ‘lawfully made under this title,’ though not necessarily with the copyright owner’s authorization. For example, any resale of an illegally ‘pirated’ phonorecord would be an infringement but the disposition of a phonorecord legally made under the compulsory licensing provisions of section 115 would not.” H. R. Rep. No. 94–1476, at 79 (emphasis added).

    114

    [31] Accord, S. Rep. No. 94–473, pp. 71–72 (1975).

    115

    This history reiterates the importance of the “first sale” doctrine. See, e.g., Copyright Law Revision, 1964 Revision Bill with Discussions and Comments, 89th Cong., 1st Sess., pt. 5, p. 66 (Comm. Print 1965) (“[F]ull ownership of a lawfully-made copy authorizes its owner to dispose of it freely”). It explains, as we have explained, the nongeographical purposes of the words “lawfully made under this title.” Part II–B, supra. And it says nothing about geography. Nor, importantly, did §109(a)’s predecessor provision. See supra, at 12. This means that, contrary to the dissent’s suggestion, any lack of legislative history pertaining to the “first sale” doctrine only tends to bolster our position that Congress’ 1976 revision did not intend to create a drastic geographical change in its revision to that provision. See post, at 18, n. 13. We consequently believe that the legislative history, on balance, supports the nongeographical interpretation.

    116

    Third, Wiley and the dissent claim that a nongeographical interpretation will make it difficult, perhaps impossible, for publishers (and other copyright holders) to divide foreign and domestic markets. We concede that is so. A publisher may find it more difficult to charge different prices for the same book in different geographic markets. But we do not see how these facts help Wiley, for we can find no basic principle of copyright law that suggests that publishers are especially entitled to such rights.

    117

    The Constitution describes the nature of American copyright law by providing Congress with the power to “secur[e]” to “[a]uthors” “for limited [t]imes” the “exclusive [r]ight to their . . . [w]ritings.” Art. I, §8, cl. 8. The Founders, too, discussed the need to grant an author a limited right to exclude competition. Compare Letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Madison (July 31, 1788), in 13 Papers of Thomas Jefferson 440, 442–443 (J. Boyd ed. 1956) (arguing against any monopoly) with Letter from James [32] Madison to Thomas Jefferson (Oct. 17, 1788), in 14 id., at 16, 21 (J. Boyd ed. 1958) (arguing for a limited monopoly to secure production). But the Constitution’s language nowhere suggests that its limited exclusive right should include a right to divide markets or a concomitant right to charge different purchasers different prices for the same book, say to increase or to maximize gain. Neither, to our knowledge, did any Founder make any such suggestion. We have found no precedent suggesting a legal preference for interpretations of copyright statutes that would provide for market divisions. Cf. Copyright Law Revision, pt. 2, at 194 (statement of Barbara Ringer, Copyright Office) (division of territorial markets was “primarily a matter of private contract”).

    118

    To the contrary, Congress enacted a copyright law that (through the “first sale” doctrine) limits copyright holders’ ability to divide domestic markets. And that limitation is consistent with antitrust laws that ordinarily forbid market divisions. Cf. Palmer v. BRG of Ga., Inc., 498 U. S. 46, 49–50 (1990) (per curiam) (“[A]greements between competitors to allocate territories to minimize competition are illegal”). Whether copyright owners should, or should not, have more than ordinary commercial power to divide international markets is a matter for Congress to decide. We do no more here than try to determine what decision Congress has taken.

    119

    Fourth, the dissent and Wiley contend that our decision launches United States copyright law into an unprecedented regime of “international exhaustion.” Post, at 18– 23; Brief for Respondent 45–46. But they point to nothing indicative of congressional intent in 1976. The dissent also claims that it is clear that the United States now opposes adopting such a regime, but the Solicitor General as amicus has taken no such position in this case. In fact, when pressed at oral argument, the Solicitor General stated that the consequences of Wiley’s reading of the [33] statute (perpetual downstream control) were “worse” than those of Kirtsaeng’s reading (restriction of market segmentation). Tr. of Oral Arg. 51. And the dissent’s reliance on the Solicitor General’s position in Quality King is undermined by his agreement in that case with our reading of §109(a). Brief for United States as Amicus Curiae in Quality King, O. T. 1996, No. 1470, p. 30 (“When . . . Congress wishes to make the location of manufacture relevant to Copyright Act protection, it does so expressly”); ibid. (calling it “distinctly unlikely” that Congress would have provided an incentive for overseas manufacturing).

    120

    Moreover, the exhaustion regime the dissent apparently favors would provide that “the sale in one country of a good” does not “exhaus[t] the intellectual-property owner’s right to control the distribution of that good elsewhere.” Post, at 18–19. But our holding in Quality King that §109(a) is a defense in U. S. courts even when “the first sale occurred abroad,” 523 U. S., at 145, n. 14, has already significantly eroded such a principle.

    121
    IV
    122

    For these reasons we conclude that the considerations supporting Kirtsaeng’s nongeographical interpretation of the words “lawfully made under this title” are the more persuasive. The judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

    123

    It is so ordered.

    124

    ---------

    125
    [1] JUSTICE KAGAN, with whom JUSTICE ALITO joins, concurring.
    126

    I concur fully in the Court’s opinion. Neither the text nor the history of 17 U. S. C. §109(a) supports removing first-sale protection from every copy of a protected work manufactured abroad. See ante, at 8–16, 28–31. I recognize, however, that the combination of today’s decision and Quality King Distributors, Inc. v. L’anza Research Int’l, Inc., 523 U. S. 135 (1998), constricts the scope of §602(a)(1)’s ban on unauthorized importation. I write to suggest that any problems associated with that limitation come not from our reading of §109(a) here, but from Quality King’s holding that §109(a) limits §602(a)(1).

    127

    As the Court explains, the first-sale doctrine has played an integral part in American copyright law for over a century. See ante, at 17–19; Bobbs-Merrill Co. v. Straus, 210 U. S. 339 (1908). No codification of the doctrine prior to 1976 even arguably limited its application to copies made in the United States. See ante, at 12. And nothing in the text or history of §109(a)—the Copyright Act of 1976’s first-sale provision—suggests that Congress meant to enact the new, geographical restriction John Wiley proposes, which at once would deprive American consumers of important rights and encourage copyright holders to manufacture abroad. See ante, at 8–16, 28–31.

    128

    [2] That said, John Wiley is right that the Court’s decision, when combined with Quality King, substantially narrows §602(a)(1)’s ban on unauthorized importation. Quality King held that the importation ban does not reach any copies receiving first-sale protection under §109(a). See 523 U. S., at 151–152. So notwithstanding §602(a)(1), an “owner of a particular copy . . . lawfully made under this title” can import that copy without the copyright owner’s permission. §109(a). In now holding that copies “lawfully made under this title” include copies manufactured abroad, we unavoidably diminish §602(a)(1)’s scope— indeed, limit it to a fairly esoteric set of applications. See ante, at 26–27.

    129

    But if Congress views the shrinking of §602(a)(1) as a problem, it should recognize Quality King—not our decision today—as the culprit. Here, after all, we merely construe §109(a); Quality King is the decision holding that §109(a) limits §602(a)(1). Had we come out the opposite way in that case, §602(a)(1) would allow a copyright owner to restrict the importation of copies irrespective of the first-sale doctrine.[1] That result would enable the copyright owner to divide international markets in the way John Wiley claims Congress intended when enacting §602(a)(1). But it would do so without imposing down-[3]-stream liability on those who purchase and resell in the United States copies that happen to have been manufactured abroad. In other words, that outcome would target unauthorized importers alone, and not the “libraries, used-book dealers, technology companies, consumer-goods retailers, and museums” with whom the Court today is rightly concerned. Ante, at 19. Assuming Congress adopted §602(a)(1) to permit market segmentation, I suspect that is how Congress thought the provision would work—not by removing first-sale protection from every copy manufactured abroad (as John Wiley urges us to do here), but by enabling the copyright holder to control imports even when the first-sale doctrine applies (as Quality King now prevents).[2]

    130

    At bottom, John Wiley (together with the dissent) asks us to misconstrue §109(a) in order to restore §602(a)(1) to its purportedly rightful function of enabling copyright holders to segment international markets. I think John Wiley may have a point about what §602(a)(1) was designed to do; that gives me pause about Quality King’s holding that the first-sale doctrine limits the importation ban’s scope. But the Court today correctly declines the [4] invitation to save §602(a)(1) from Quality King by destroying the first-sale protection that §109(a) gives to every owner of a copy manufactured abroad. That would swap one (possible) mistake for a much worse one, and make our reading of the statute only less reflective of Congressional intent. If Congress thinks copyright owners need greater power to restrict importation and thus divide markets, a ready solution is at hand—not the one John Wiley offers in this case, but the one the Court rejected in Quality King.

    131

    ---------

    132
    Dissenting Opinion
    133
    [1] JUSTICE GINSBURG, with whom JUSTICE KENNEDY joins, and with whom JUSTICE SCALIA joins except as to Parts III and V–B–1, dissenting.
    134

    “In the interpretation of statutes, the function of the courts is easily stated. It is to construe the language so as to give effect to the intent of Congress.” United States v. American Trucking Assns., Inc., 310 U. S. 534, 542 (1940). Instead of adhering to the Legislature’s design, the Court today adopts an interpretation of the Copyright Act at odds with Congress’ aim to protect copyright owners against the unauthorized importation of low-priced, foreign made copies of their copyrighted works. The Court’s bold departure from Congress’ design is all the more stunning, for it places the United States at the vanguard of the movement for “international exhaustion” of copyrights—a movement the United States has steadfastly resisted on the world stage.

    135

    To justify a holding that shrinks to insignificance copyright protection against the unauthorized importation of foreign-made copies, the Court identifies several “practical problems.” Ante, at 24. The Court’s parade of horribles, however, is largely imaginary. Congress’ objective in enacting 17 U. S. C. §602(a)(1)’s importation prohibition can be honored without generating the absurd consequences hypothesized in the Court’s opinion. I dissent [2] from the Court’s embrace of “international exhaustion,” and would affirm the sound judgment of the Court of Appeals.

    136
    I
    137

    Because economic conditions and demand for particular goods vary across the globe, copyright owners have a financial incentive to charge different prices for copies of their works in different geographic regions. Their ability to engage in such price discrimination, however, is undermined if arbitrageurs are permitted to import copies from low-price regions and sell them in high-price regions. The question in this case is whether the unauthorized importation of foreign-made copies constitutes copyright infringement under U. S. law.

    138

    To answer this question, one must examine three provisions of Title 17 of the U. S. Code: §§106(3), 109(a), and 602(a)(1). Section 106 sets forth the “exclusive rights” of a copyright owner, including the right “to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending.” §106(3). This distribution right is limited by §109(a), which provides: “Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106(3), the owner of a particular copy or phonorecord lawfully made under this title . . . is entitled, without the authority of the copyright owner, to sell or otherwise dispose of the possession of that copy or phonorecord.” Section 109(a) codifies the “first sale doctrine,” a doctrine articulated in Bobbs-Merrill Co. v. Straus, 210 U. S. 339, 349–351 (1908), which held that a copyright owner could not control the price at which retailers sold lawfully purchased copies of its work. The first sale doctrine recognizes that a copyright owner should not be permitted to exercise perpetual control over the distribution of copies of a copyrighted work. At some point—ordinarily the time of the first commercial sale— [3] the copyright owner’s exclusive right under §106(3) to control the distribution of a particular copy is exhausted, and from that point forward, the copy can be resold or otherwise redistributed without the copyright owner’s authorization.

    139

    Section 602(a)(1) (2006 ed., Supp. V)[1]—last, but most critical, of the three copyright provisions bearing on this case—is an importation ban. It reads:

    140

    “Importation into the United States, without the authority of the owner of copyright under this title, of copies or phonorecords of a work that have been acquired outside the United States is an infringement of the exclusive right to distribute copies or phonorecords under section 106, actionable under section 501.”

    141

    In Quality King Distributors, Inc. v. L’anza Research Int’l, Inc., 523 U. S. 135, 143–154 (1998), the Court held that a copyright owner’s right to control importation under §602(a)(1) is a component of the distribution right set forth in §106(3) and is therefore subject to §109(a)’s codification of the first sale doctrine. Quality King thus held that the importation of copies made in the United States but sold abroad did not rank as copyright infringement under §602(a)(1). Id., at 143–154. See also id., at 154 (GINSBURG, J., concurring) (Quality King “involve[d] a ‘round trip’ journey, travel of the copies in question from the United States to places abroad, then back again”).[2]

    142

    Important to the Court’s holding, the copies at issue in Quality King had been “ ‘lawfully made under [Title 17]’ ”—a prerequisite for application of §109(a). Id., at 143, n. 9 (quoting §109(a)). Section 602(a)(1), the Court noted, would apply to “copies that were ‘lawfully made’ not under the United States Copyright Act, but instead, under the law of some other country.” Id., at 147. Drawing on an example discussed during a 1964 public meeting on proposed revisions to the U. S. copyright laws,[3] the Court stated:

    143

    “If the author of [a] work gave the exclusive United States distribution rights—enforceable under the Act—to the publisher of the United States edition and the exclusive British distribution rights to the publisher of the British edition, . . . presumably only those [copies] made by the publisher of the United States edition would be ‘lawfully made under this title’ within the meaning of §109(a). The first sale doctrine would not provide the publisher of the British edition who decided to sell in the American market with a defense to an action under §602(a) (or, for that matter, [4] to an action under §106(3), if there was a distribution of the copies).” Id., at 148.

    144

    As the District Court and the Court of Appeals concluded, see 654 F. 3d 210, 221–222 (CA2 2011); App. to Pet. for Cert. 70a–73a, application of the Quality King analysis to the facts of this case would preclude any invocation of §109(a). Petitioner Supap Kirtsaeng imported and then sold at a profit over 600 copies of copyrighted textbooks printed outside the United States by the Asian subsidiary of respondent John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (Wiley). App. 29– 34. See also ante, at 3–5 (opinion of the Court). In the words the Court used in Quality King, these copies “were ‘lawfully made’ not under the United States Copyright Act, but instead, under the law of some other country.” 523 U. S., at 147. Section 109(a) therefore does not apply, and Kirtsaeng’s unauthorized importation constitutes copyright infringement under §602(a)(1).

    145

    The Court does not deny that under the language I have quoted from Quality King, Wiley would prevail. Ante, at 27. Nevertheless, the Court dismisses this language, to which all Members of the Quality King Court subscribed, as ill-considered dictum. Ante, at 27–28. I agree that the discussion was dictum in the sense that it was not essential to the Court’s judgment. See Quality King, 523 U. S., at 154 (GINSBURG, J., concurring) (“[W]e do not today resolve cases in which the allegedly infringing imports were manufactured abroad.”). But I disagree with the Court’s conclusion that this dictum was ill considered. Instead, for the reasons explained below, I would hold, consistently with Quality King’s dictum, that §602(a)(1) authorizes a copyright owner to bar the importation of a copy manufactured abroad for sale abroad.

    146
    II
    147

    The text of the Copyright Act demonstrates that Congress intended to provide copyright owners with a potent [6] remedy against the importation of foreign-made copies of their copyrighted works. As the Court recognizes, ante, at 3, this case turns on the meaning of the phrase “lawfully made under this title” in §109(a). In my view, that phrase is most sensibly read as referring to instances in which a copy’s creation is governed by, and conducted in compliance with, Title 17 of the U. S. Code. This reading is consistent with the Court’s interpretation of similar language in other statutes. See Florida Dept. of Revenue v. Piccadilly Cafeterias, Inc., 554 U. S. 33, 52–53 (2008) (“under” in 11 U. S. C. §1146(a), a Bankruptcy Code provision exempting certain asset transfers from stamp taxes, means “pursuant to”); Ardestani v. INS, 502 U. S. 129, 135 (1991) (the phrase “under section 554” in the Equal Access to Justice Act means “subject to” or “governed by” 5 U. S. C. §554 (internal quotation marks omitted)). It also accords with dictionary definitions of the word “under.” See, e.g., American Heritage Dictionary 1887 (5th ed. 2011) (“under” means, among other things, “[s]ubject to the authority, rule, or control of ”).

    148

    Section 109(a), properly read, affords Kirtsaeng no defense against Wiley’s claim of copyright infringement. The Copyright Act, it has been observed time and again, does not apply extraterritorially. See United Dictionary Co. v. G. & C. Merriam Co., 208 U. S. 260, 264 (1908) (copyright statute requiring that U. S. copyright notices be placed in all copies of a work did not apply to copies published abroad because U. S. copyright laws have no “force” beyond the United States’ borders); 4 M. Nimmer & D. Nimmer, Copyright §17.02, p. 17–18 (2012) (hereinafter Nimmer) (“[C]opyright laws do not have any extraterritorial operation.”); 4 W. Patry, Copyright §13:22, p. 13–66 (2012) (hereinafter Patry) (“Copyright laws are rigorously territorial.”). The printing of Wiley’s foreign manufactured textbooks therefore was not governed by Title 17. The textbooks thus were not “lawfully made [7] under [Title 17],” the crucial precondition for application of §109(a). And if §109(a) does not apply, there is no dispute that Kirtsaeng’s conduct constituted copyright infringement under §602(a)(1).

    149

    The Court’s point of departure is similar to mine. According to the Court, the phrase “ ‘lawfully made under this title’ means made ‘in accordance with’ or ‘in compliance with’ the Copyright Act.” Ante, at 8. But the Court overlooks that, according to the very dictionaries it cites, ante, at 9, the word “under” commonly signals a relationship of subjection, where one thing is governed or regulated by another. See Black’s Law Dictionary 1525 (6th ed. 1990) (“under” “frequently” means “inferior” or “subordinate” (internal quotation marks omitted)); 18 Oxford English Dictionary 950 (2d ed. 1989) (“under” means, among other things, “[i]n accordance with (some regulative power or principle)” (emphasis added)). See also Webster’s Third New International Dictionary 2487 (1961) (“under” means, among other things, “in . . . a condition of subjection, regulation, or subordination” and “suffering restriction, restraint, or control by”). Only by disregarding this established meaning of “under” can the Court arrive at the conclusion that Wiley’s foreign-manufactured textbooks were “lawfully made under” U. S. copyright law, even though that law did not govern their creation. It is anomalous, however, to speak of particular conduct as “lawful” under an inapplicable law. For example, one might say that driving on the right side of the road in England is “lawful” under U. S. law, but that would be so only because U. S. law has nothing to say about the subject. The governing law is English law, and English law demands that driving be done on the left side of the road.[4]

    150

    [8] The logical implication of the Court’s definition of the word “under” is that any copy manufactured abroad—even a piratical one made without the copyright owner’s authorization and in violation of the law of the country where it was created—would fall within the scope of §109(a). Any such copy would have been made “in accordance with” or “in compliance with” the U. S. Copyright Act, in the sense that manufacturing the copy did not violate the Act (because the Act does not apply extraterritorially).

    151

    The Court rightly refuses to accept such an absurd conclusion. Instead, it interprets §109(a) as applying only to copies whose making actually complied with Title 17, or would have complied with Title 17 had Title 17 been applicable (i.e., had the copies been made in the United States). See ante, at 8 (“§109(a)’s ‘first sale’ doctrine would apply to copyrighted works as long as their manufacture met the requirements of American copyright law.”). Congress, however, used express language when it called for such a counterfactual inquiry in 17 U. S. C. §§602(a)(2) and (b). See §602(a)(2) (“Importation into the United States or exportation from the United States, without the authority of the owner of copyright under this title, of copies or phonorecords, the making of which either constituted an infringement of copyright, or which would have constituted an infringement of copyright if this title had been applicable, is an infringement of the exclusive right to distribute copies or phonorecords under section 106.” (emphasis added)); §602(b) (“In a case where the making [9] of the copies or phonorecords would have constituted an infringement of copyright if this title had been applicable, their importation is prohibited.” (emphasis added)). Had Congress intended courts to engage in a similarly hypothetical inquiry under §109(a), Congress would presumably have included similar language in that section. See Russello v. United States, 464 U. S. 16, 23 (1983) (“ ‘[W]here Congress includes particular language in one section of a statute but omits it in another section of the same Act, it is generally presumed that Congress acts intentionally and purposely in the disparate inclusion or exclusion.’ ” (quoting United States v. Wong Kim Bo, 472 F. 2d 720, 722 (CA5 1972) (per curiam); brackets in original)).[5]

    152

    [10] Not only does the Court adopt an unnatural construction of the §109(a) phrase “lawfully made under this title.” Concomitantly, the Court reduces §602(a)(1) to insignificance. As the Court appears to acknowledge, see ante, at 26, the only independent effect §602(a)(1) has under today’s decision is to prohibit unauthorized importations carried out by persons who merely have possession of, but do not own, the imported copies. See 17 U. S. C. §109(a) (§109(a) applies to any “owner of a particular copy or phonorecord lawfully made under this title” (emphasis added)).[6] If this is enough to avoid rendering §602(a)(1) entirely “superfluous,” ante, at 26, it hardly suffices to give the owner’s importation right the scope Congress intended it to have. Congress used broad language in §602(a)(1); it did so to achieve a broad objective. Had Congress intended simply to provide a copyright remedy against larcenous lessees, licensees, consignees, and bailees of films and other copyright-protected goods, see ante, at 13–14, 26, it likely would have used language tailored to that narrow purpose. See 2 Nimmer §8.12[B][6][c], at 8–184.31, n. 432 (“It may be wondered whether . . . potential causes of action [against licensees and the like] are more than theoretical.”). See also ante, at 2 (KAGAN, J., concurring) (the Court’s decision limits §602(a)(1) “to a fairly esoteric set of [11] applications”).[7]

    153

    The Court’s decision also overwhelms 17 U. S. C. §602(a)(3)’s exceptions to §602(a)(1)’s importation prohibition. 2 P. Goldstein, Copyright §7.6.1.2(a), p. 7:141 (3d ed. 2012) (hereinafter Goldstein).[8] Those exceptions permit the importation of copies without the copyright owner’s authorization for certain governmental, personal, scholarly, educational, and religious purposes. 17 U. S. C. §602(a)(3). Copies imported under these exceptions “will often be lawfully made gray market goods purchased through normal market channels abroad.” 2 Goldstein [12] §7.6.1.2(a), at 7:141.[9] But if, as the Court holds, such copies can in any event be imported by virtue of §109(a), §602(a)(3)’s work has already been done. For example, had Congress conceived of §109(a)’s sweep as the Court does, what earthly reason would there be to provide, as Congress did in §602(a)(3)(C), that a library may import “no more than five copies” of a non-audiovisual work for its “lending or archival purposes”?

    154

    The far more plausible reading of §§109(a) and 602(a), then, is that Congress intended §109(a) to apply to copies made in the United States, not to copies manufactured and sold abroad. That reading of the first sale and importation provisions leaves §602(a)(3)’s exceptions with real, meaningful work to do. See TRW Inc. v. Andrews, 534 U. S. 19, 31 (2001) (“It is a cardinal principle of statutory construction that a statute ought, upon the whole, to be so construed that, if it can be prevented, no clause, sentence, or word shall be superfluous, void, or insignificant.” (internal quotation marks omitted)). In the range of circumstances covered by the exceptions, §602(a)(3) frees individuals and entities who purchase foreign-made copies abroad from the requirement they would otherwise face under §602(a)(1) of obtaining the copyright owner’s permission to import the copies into the United States.[10]

    155
    [13] III
    156

    The history of §602(a)(1) reinforces the conclusion I draw from the text of the relevant provisions: §109(a) does not apply to copies manufactured abroad. Section 602(a)(1) was enacted as part of the Copyright Act of 1976, 90 Stat. 2589–2590. That Act was the product of a lengthy revision effort overseen by the U. S. Copyright Office. See Mills Music, Inc. v. Snyder, 469 U. S. 153, 159–160 (1985). In its initial 1961 report on recommended revisions, the Copyright Office noted that publishers had “suggested that the [then-existing] import ban on piratical copies should be extended to bar the importation of . . . foreign edition[s]” in violation of “agreements to divide international markets for copyrighted works.” Copyright Law Revision: Report of the Register of Copyrights on the General Revision of the U. S. Copyright Law, 87th Cong., 1st Sess., 126 (H. R. Judiciary Comm. Print 1961) (hereinafter Copyright Law Revision). See Copyright Act of 1947, §106, 61 Stat. 663 (“The importation into the United States . . . of any piratical copies of any work copyrighted [14] in the United States . . . is prohibited.”). The Copyright Office originally recommended against such an extension of the importation ban, reasoning that enforcement of territorial restrictions was best left to contract law. Copyright Law Revision 126.

    157

    Publishing-industry representatives argued strenuously against the position initially taken by the Copyright Office. At a 1962 panel discussion on the Copyright Office’s report, for example, Horace Manges of the American Book Publishers Council stated:

    158

    “When a U. S. book publisher enters into a contract with a British publisher to acquire exclusive U. S. rights for a particular book, he often finds that the English edition . . . of that particular book finds its way into this country. Now it’s all right to say, ‘Commence a lawsuit for breach of contract.’ But this is expensive, burdensome, and, for the most part, ineffective.” Copyright Law Revision Part 2: Discussion and Comments on Report of the Register of Copyrights on the General Revision of the U. S. Copyright Law, 88th Cong., 1st Sess., 212 (H. R. Judiciary Comm. Print 1963).

    159

    Sidney Diamond, representing London Records, elaborated on Manges’ statement. “There are many situations,” he explained, “in which it is not necessarily a question of the inadequacy of a contract remedy—in the sense that it may be difficult or not quick enough to solve the particular problem.” Id., at 213. “Very frequently,” Diamond stated, publishers “run into a situation where . . . copies of [a] work . . . produced in a foreign country . . . may be shipped [to the United States] without violating any contract of the U. S. copyright proprietor.” Ibid. To illustrate, Diamond noted, if a “British publisher [sells a copy] to an individual who in turn ship[s] it over” to the United States, the individual’s conduct would not “violate [any] contract between [15] the British and the American publisher.” Ibid. In such a case, “no possibility of any contract remedy” would exist. Ibid. The facts of Kirtsaeng’s case fit Diamond’s example, save that the copies at issue here were printed and initially sold in Asia rather than Great Britain.

    160

    After considering comments on its 1961 report, the Copyright Office “prepared a preliminary draft of provisions for a new copyright statute.” Copyright Law Revision Part 3: Preliminary Draft for Revised U. S. Copyright Law and Discussions and Comments on the Draft, 88th Cong., 2d Sess., V (H. R. Judiciary Comm. Print 1964). Section 44 of the draft statute addressed the concerns raised by publishing-industry representatives. In particular, §44(a) provided:

    161

    “Importation into the United States of copies or records of a work for the purpose of distribution to the public shall, if such articles are imported without the authority of the owner of the exclusive right to distribute copies or records under this title, constitute an infringement of copyright actionable under section 35 [i.e., the section providing for a private cause of action for copyright infringement].” Id., at 32–33.

    162

    In a 1964 panel discussion regarding the draft statute, Abe Goldman, the Copyright Office’s General Counsel, left no doubt about the meaning of §44(a). It represented, he explained, a “shif[t]” from the Copyright Office’s 1961 report, which had recommended against using copyright law to facilitate publishers’ efforts to segment international markets. Copyright Law Revision Part 4: Further Discussions and Comments on Preliminary Draft for Revised U. S. Copyright Law, 88th Cong., 2d Sess., 203 (H. R. Judiciary Comm. Print 1964). Section 44(a), Goldman stated, would allow copyright owners to bring infringement actions against importers of “foreign copies that were made under proper authority.” Ibid. See also [16] id., at 205–206 (Goldman agreed with a speaker’s comment that §44(a) “enlarge[d]” U. S. copyright law by extending import prohibitions “to works legally produced in Europe” and other foreign countries).[11]

    163

    The next step in the copyright revision process was the introduction in Congress of a draft bill on July 20, 1964. See Copyright Law Revision Part 5: 1964 Revision Bill with Discussions and Comments, 89th Cong., 1st Sess., III (H. R. Judiciary Comm. Print 1965). After another round of public comments, a revised bill was introduced on February 4, 1965. See Copyright Law Revision Part 6: Supplementary Report of the Register of Copyrights on the General Revision of the U. S. Copyright Law: 1965 Revision Bill, 89th Cong., 1st Sess., V (H. R. Judiciary Comm. Print 1965) (hereinafter Copyright Law Revision Part 6). In language closely resembling the statutory text later enacted by Congress, §602(a) of the 1965 bill provided:

    164

    “Importation into the United States, without the authority of the owner of copyright under this title, of copies or phonorecords of a work for the purpose of distribution to the public is an infringement of the exclusive right to distribute copies or phonorecords under section 106, actionable under section 501.” Id., at 292.[12]

    165

    [17] The Court implies that the 1965 bill’s “explici[t] refer[ence] to §106” showed a marked departure from §44(a) of the Copyright Office’s prior draft. Ante, at 29. The Copyright Office, however, did not see it that way. In its summary of the 1965 bill’s provisions, the Copyright Office observed that §602(a) of the 1965 bill, like §44(a) of the Copyright Office’s prior draft, see supra, at 15–16, permitted copyright owners to bring infringement actions against unauthorized importers in cases “where the copyright owner had authorized the making of [the imported] copies in a foreign country for distribution only in that country.” Copyright Law Revision Part 6, at 149–150. See also id., at XXVI (Under §602(a) of the 1965 bill, “[a]n unauthorized importer could be enjoined and sued for damages both where the copies or phonorecords he was importing were ‘piratical’ (that is, where their making would have constituted an infringement if the U. S. copyright law could have been applied), and where their making was ‘lawful.’ ”).

    166

    The current text of §602(a)(1) was finally enacted into law in 1976. See Copyright Act of 1976, §602(a), 90 Stat. 2589–2590. The House and Senate Committee Reports on the 1976 Act demonstrate that Congress understood, as did the Copyright Office, just what that text meant. Both Reports state:

    167

    “Section 602 [deals] with two separate situations: importation of ‘piratical’ articles (that is, copies or phonorecords made without any authorization of the [18] copyright owner), and unauthorized importation of copies or phonorecords that were lawfully made. The general approach of section 602 is to make unauthorized importation an act of infringement in both cases, but to permit the Bureau of Customs to prohibit importation only of ‘piratical’ articles.” S. Rep. No. 94– 473, p. 151 (1975) (emphasis added). See also H. R. Rep. No. 94–1476, p. 169 (1976) (same).

    168

    In sum, the legislative history of the Copyright Act of 1976 is hardly “inconclusive.” Ante, at 28. To the contrary, it confirms what the plain text of the Act conveys: Congress intended §602(a)(1) to provide copyright owners with a remedy against the unauthorized importation of foreign-made copies of their works, even if those copies were made and sold abroad with the copyright owner’s authorization.[13]

    169
    IV
    170

    Unlike the Court’s holding, my position is consistent with the stance the United States has taken in international trade negotiations. This case bears on the highly contentious trade issue of interterritorial exhaustion. The issue arises because intellectual property law is territorial in nature, see supra, at 6, which means that creators of intellectual property “may hold a set of parallel” intellectual property rights under the laws of different nations. Chiappetta, The Desirability of Agreeing to Disagree: The WTO, TRIPS, International IPR Exhaustion and a Few Other Things, 21 Mich. J. Int’l L. 333, 340–341 (2000) (hereinafter Chiappetta). There is no international con-[19]-sensus on whether the sale in one country of a good incorporating protected intellectual property exhausts the intellectual property owner’s right to control the distribution of that good elsewhere. Indeed, the members of the World Trade Organization, “agreeing to disagree,”[14] provided in Article 6 of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), Apr. 15, 1994, 33 I. L. M. 1197, 1200, that “nothing in this Agreement shall be used to address the issue of . . . exhaustion.” See Chiappetta 346 (observing that exhaustion of intellectual property rights was “hotly debated” during the TRIPS negotiations and that Article 6 “reflects [the negotiators’] ultimate inability to agree” on a single international standard). Similar language appears in other treaties to which the United States is a party. See World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Copyright Treaty, Art. 6(2), Dec. 20, 1996, S. Treaty Doc. No. 105–17, p. 7 (“Nothing in this Treaty shall affect the freedom of Contracting Parties to determine the conditions, if any, under which the exhaustion of the right [to control distribution of copies of a copyrighted work] applies after the first sale or other transfer of ownership of the original or a copy of the work with the authorization of the author.”); WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty, Art. 8(2), Dec. 20, 1996, S. Treaty Doc. No. 105–17, p. 28 (containing language nearly identical to Article 6(2) of the WIPO Copyright Treaty).

    171

    In the absence of agreement at the international level, each country has been left to choose for itself the exhaustion framework it will follow. One option is a national exhaustion regime, under which a copyright owner’s right [20] to control distribution of a particular copy is exhausted only within the country in which the copy is sold. See Forsyth & Rothnie, Parallel Imports, in The Interface Between Intellectual Property Rights and Competition Policy 429, 430 (S. Anderman ed. 2007) (hereinafter Forsyth & Rothnie). Another option is a rule of international exhaustion, under which the authorized distribution of a particular copy anywhere in the world exhausts the copyright owner’s distribution right everywhere with respect to that copy. See ibid. The European Union has adopted the intermediate approach of regional exhaustion, under which the sale of a copy anywhere within the European Economic Area exhausts the copyright owner’s distribution right throughout that region. See id., at 430, 445. Section 602(a)(1), in my view, ties the United States to a national-exhaustion framework. The Court’s decision, in contrast, places the United States solidly in the international­ exhaustion camp.

    172

    Strong arguments have been made both in favor of, and in opposition to, international exhaustion. See Chiappetta 360 (“[r]easonable people making valid points can, and do, reach conflicting conclusions” regarding the desirability of international exhaustion). International exhaustion subjects copyright-protected goods to competition from lower priced imports and, to that extent, benefits consumers. Correspondingly, copyright owners profit from a national-exhaustion regime, which also enlarges the monetary incentive to create new copyrightable works. See Forsyth & Rothnie 432–437 (surveying arguments for and against international exhaustion).

    173

    Weighing the competing policy concerns, our Government reached the conclusion that widespread adoption of the international-exhaustion framework would be inconsistent with the long-term economic interests of the United States. See Brief for United States as Amicus Curiae in Quality King, O. T. 1997, No. 96–1470, pp. 22–26 (herein-[21]-after Quality King Brief).[15] Accordingly, the United States has steadfastly “taken the position in international trade negotiations that domestic copyright owners should . . . have the right to prevent the unauthorized importation of copies of their work sold abroad.” Id., at 22. The United States has “advanced this position in multilateral trade negotiations,” including the negotiations on the TRIPS Agreement. Id., at 24. See also D. Gervais, The TRIPS Agreement: Drafting History and Analysis §2.63, p. 199 (3d ed. 2008). It has also taken a dim view of our trading partners’ adoption of legislation incorporating elements of international exhaustion. See Clapperton & Corones, Locking in Customers, Locking Out Competitors: Anti-Circumvention Laws in Australia and Their Potential Effect on Competition in High Technology Markets, 30 Melbourne U. L. Rev. 657, 664 (2006) (United States expressed concern regarding international-exhaustion legislation in Australia); Montén, Comment, The Inconsistency Between Section 301 and TRIPS: Counterproductive With Respect to the Future of International Protection of Intellectual Property Rights? 9 Marq. Intellectual [21] Property L. Rev. 387, 417–418 (2005) (same with respect to New Zealand and Taiwan).

    174

    Even if the text and history of the Copyright Act were ambiguous on the answer to the question this case presents— which they are not, see Parts II–III, supra[16]—I would resist a holding out of accord with the firm position the United States has taken on exhaustion in international negotiations. Quality King, I acknowledge, discounted the Government’s concerns about potential inconsistency with United States obligations under certain bilateral trade agreements. See 523 U. S., at 153–154. See also Quality King Brief 22–24 (listing the agreements). That decision, however, dealt only with copyright-protected products made in the United States. See 523 U. S., at 154 (GINSBURG, J., concurring). Quality King left open the question whether owners of U. S. copyrights could retain control over the importation of copies manufactured and sold abroad—a point the Court obscures, see ante, at 33 (arguing that Quality King “significantly eroded” the national-exhaustion principle that, in my view, §602(a)(1) embraces). The Court today answers that question with a resounding “no,” and in doing so, it risks undermining the United States’ credibility on the world stage. While the Government has urged our trading partners to refrain from adopting international-exhaustion regimes that could benefit consumers within their borders but would impact adversely on intellectual-property producers in the United States, the Court embraces an international-exhaustion rule that could benefit U. S. consumers but would likely [23] disadvantage foreign holders of U. S. copyrights. This dissonance scarcely enhances the United States’ “role as a trusted partner in multilateral endeavors.” Vimar Seguros y Reaseguros, S. A. v. M/V Sky Reefer, 515 U. S. 528, 539 (1995).

    175
    V
    176

    I turn now to the Court’s justifications for a decision difficult to reconcile with the Copyright Act’s text and history.

    177
    A
    178

    The Court asserts that its holding “is consistent with antitrust laws that ordinarily forbid market divisions.” Ante, at 32. See also ante, at 18 (again referring to anti-trust principles). Section 602(a)(1), however, read as I do and as the Government does, simply facilitates copyright owners’ efforts to impose “vertical restraints” on distributors of copies of their works. See Forsyth & Rothnie 435 (“Parallel importation restrictions enable manufacturers and distributors to erect ‘vertical restraints’ in the market through exclusive distribution agreements.”). See generally Leegin Creative Leather Products, Inc. v. PSKS, Inc., 551 U. S. 877 (2007) (discussing vertical restraints). We have held that vertical restraints are not per se illegal under §1 of the Sherman Act, 15 U. S. C. §1, because such “restraints can have procompetitive effects.” 551 U. S., at 881–882.[17]

    179
    [24] B
    180

    The Court sees many “horribles” following from a holding that the §109(a) phrase “lawfully made under this title” does not encompass foreign-made copies. Ante, at 22 (internal quotation marks omitted). If §109(a) excluded foreign-made copies, the Court fears, then copyright owners could exercise perpetual control over the downstream distribution or public display of such copies. A ruling in Wiley’s favor, the Court asserts, would shutter libraries, put used-book dealers out of business, cripple art muse ums, and prevent the resale of a wide range of consumer goods, from cars to calculators. Ante, at 19–22. See also ante, at 2–3 (KAGAN, J., concurring) (expressing concern about “imposing downstream liability on those who purchase and resell in the United States copies that happen to have been manufactured abroad”). Copyright law and precedent, however, erect barriers to the anticipated horribles.[18]

    181
    1
    182

    Recognizing that foreign-made copies fall outside the ambit of §109(a) would not mean they are forever free of the first sale doctrine. As earlier observed, see supra, at 2, the Court stated that doctrine initially in its 1908 Bobbs-[25]-Merrill decision. At that time, no statutory provision expressly codified the first sale doctrine. Instead, copy right law merely provided that copyright owners had “the sole liberty of printing, reprinting, publishing, completing, copying, executing, finishing, and vending” their works. Copyright Act of 1891, §1, 26 Stat. 1107.

    183

    In Bobbs-Merrill, the Court addressed the scope of the statutory right to “ven[d].” In granting that right, the Court held, Congress did not intend to permit copyright owners “to fasten . . . a restriction upon the subsequent alienation of the subject-matter of copyright after the owner had parted with the title to one who had acquired full dominion over it and had given a satisfactory price for it.” 210 U. S., at 349–350. “[O]ne who has sold a copyrighted article . . . without restriction,” the Court explained, “has parted with all right to control the sale of it.” Id., at 350. Thus, “[t]he purchaser of a book, once sold by authority of the owner of the copyright, may sell it again, although he could not publish a new edition of it.” Ibid.

    184

    Under the logic of Bobbs-Merrill, the sale of a foreign-manufactured copy in the United States carried out with the copyright owner’s authorization would exhaust the copyright owner’s right to “vend” that copy. The copy could thenceforth be resold, lent out, or otherwise redistributed without further authorization from the copyright owner. Although §106(3) uses the word “distribute” rather than “vend,” there is no reason to think Congress intended the word “distribute” to bear a meaning different from the construction the Court gave to the word “vend” in Bobbs-Merrill. See ibid. (emphasizing that the question before the Court was “purely [one] of statutory construction”).[19] [26] Thus, in accord with Bobbs-Merrill, the first authorized distribution of a foreign-made copy in the United States exhausts the copyright owner’s distribution right under §106(3). After such an authorized distribution, a library may lend, or a used-book dealer may resell, the foreign made copy without seeking the copyright owner’s permission. Cf. ante, at 19–21.

    185

    For example, if Wiley, rather than Kirtsaeng, had imported into the United States and then sold the foreign made textbooks at issue in this case, Wiley’s §106(3) distribution right would have been exhausted under the rationale of Bobbs-Merrill. Purchasers of the textbooks would thus be free to dispose of the books as they wished without first gaining a license from Wiley.

    186

    This line of reasoning, it must be acknowledged, significantly curtails the independent effect of §109(a). If, as I maintain, the term “distribute” in §106(3) incorporates the first sale doctrine by virtue of Bobbs-Merrill, then §109(a)’s codification of that doctrine adds little to the regulatory regime.[20] Section 109(a), however, does serve [27] as a statutory bulwark against courts deviating from Bobbs-Merrill in a way that increases copyright owners’ control over downstream distribution, and legislative history indicates that is precisely the role Congress intended §109(a) to play. Congress first codified the first sale doctrine in §41 of the Copyright Act of 1909, 35 Stat. 1084.[21] It did so, the House Committee Report on the 1909 Act explains, “in order to make . . . clear that [Congress had] no intention [of] enlarg[ing] in any way the construction to be given to the word ‘vend.’ ” H. R. Rep. No. 2222, 60th Cong., 2d Sess., 19 (1909). According to the Committee Report, §41 was “not intended to change [exist ing law] in any way.” Ibid. The position I have stated and explained accords with this expression of congressional intent. In enacting §41 and its successors, I would hold, Congress did not “change . . . existing law,” ibid., by stripping the word “vend” (and thus its substitute “distribute”) of the limiting construction imposed in Bobbs-Merrill.

    187

    In any event, the reading of the Copyright Act to which I subscribe honors Congress’ aim in enacting §109(a) while the Court’s reading of the Act severely diminishes §602(a)(1)’s role. See supra, at 10–12. My position in no way tugs against the principle underlying §109(a)—i.e., that certain conduct by the copyright owner exhausts the [28] owner’s §106(3) distribution right. The Court, in contrast, fails to give meaningful effect to Congress’ manifest intent in §602(a)(1) to grant copyright owners the right to control the importation of foreign-made copies of their works.

    188
    2
    189

    Other statutory prescriptions provide further protection against the absurd consequences imagined by the Court. For example, §602(a)(3)(C) permits “an organization operated for scholarly, educational, or religious purposes” to import, without the copyright owner’s authorization, up to five foreign-made copies of a non-audiovisual work— notably, a book—for “library lending or archival purposes.” But cf. ante, at 19–20 (suggesting that affirming the Second Circuit’s decision might prevent libraries from lending foreign-made books).[22]

    190

    The Court also notes that amici representing art museums fear that a ruling in Wiley’s favor would prevent museums from displaying works of art created abroad. Ante, at 22 (citing Brief for Association of Art Museum Directors et al.). These amici observe that a museum’s right to display works of art often depends on 17 U. S. C. §109(c). See Brief for Association of Art Museum Directors et al. 11–13.[23] That provision addresses exhaustion of [29] a copyright owner’s exclusive right under §106(5) to publicly display the owner’s work. Because §109(c), like §109(a), applies only to copies “lawfully made under this title,” amici contend that a ruling in Wiley’s favor would prevent museums from invoking §109(c) with respect to foreign-made works of art. Id., at 11–13.[24]

    191

    Limiting §109(c) to U. S.-made works, however, does not bar art museums from lawfully displaying works made in other countries. Museums can, of course, seek the copyright owner’s permission to display a work. Furthermore, the sale of a work of art to a U. S. museum may carry with it an implied license to publicly display the work. See 2 Patry §5:131, at 5–280 (“[C]ourts have noted the potential availability of an implied nonexclusive licens[e] when the circumstances . . . demonstrate that the parties intended that the work would be used for a specific purpose.”). Displaying a work of art as part of a museum exhibition might also qualify as a “fair use” under 17 U. S. C. §107. Cf. Bouchat v. Baltimore Ravens Ltd. Partnership, 619 F. 3d 301, 313–316 (CA4 2010) (display of copyrighted logo in museum-like exhibition constituted “fair use”).

    192

    The Court worries about the resale of foreign-made consumer goods “contain[ing] copyrightable software programs or packaging.” Ante, at 21. For example, the Court observes that a car might be programmed with diverse forms of software, the copyrights to which might be owned by individuals or entities other than the manufacturer of the car. Ibid. Must a car owner, the Court asks, obtain permission from all of these various copyright owners before reselling her car? Ibid. Although this question strays far from the one presented in this case and briefed by the parties, principles of fair use and implied [30] license (to the extent that express licenses do not exist) would likely permit the car to be resold without the copyright owners’ authorization.[25]

    193

    Most telling in this regard, no court, it appears, has been called upon to answer any of the Court’s “horribles” in an actual case. Three decades have passed since a federal court first published an opinion reading §109(a) as applicable exclusively to copies made in the United States. See Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc. v. Scorpio Music Distributors, Inc., 569 F. Supp. 47, 49 (ED Pa. 1983), summarily aff ’d, 738 F. 2d 424 (CA3 1984) (table). Yet Kirtsaeng and his supporting amici cite not a single case in which the owner of a consumer good authorized for sale in the United States has been sued for copyright infringement after reselling the item or giving it away as a gift or to charity. The absence of such lawsuits is unsurprising. Routinely suing one’s customers is hardly a best business [31] practice.[26] Manufacturers, moreover, may be hesitant to do business with software programmers taken to suing consumers. Manufacturers may also insist that software programmers agree to contract terms barring such lawsuits.

    194

    The Court provides a different explanation for the absence of the untoward consequences predicted in its opinion—namely, that lower court decisions regarding the scope of §109(a)’s first sale prescription have not been uniform. Ante, at 23. Uncertainty generated by these conflicting decisions, the Court notes, may have deterred some copyright owners from pressing infringement claims. Ante, at 23–24. But if, as the Court suggests, there are a multitude of copyright owners champing at the bit to bring lawsuits against libraries, art museums, and consumers in an effort to exercise perpetual control over the downstream distribution and public display of foreign-made copies, might one not expect that at least a handful of such lawsuits would have been filed over the past 30 years? The absence of such suits indicates that the “practical problems” hypothesized by the Court are greatly exaggerated. Ante, at 24.[27] They surely do not warrant disregard-[32]-ing Congress’ intent, expressed in §602(a)(1), to grant copyright owners the authority to bar the importation of foreign-made copies of their works. Cf. Hartford Underwriters Ins. Co. v. Union Planters Bank, N. A., 530 U. S. 1, 6 (2000) (“[W]hen the statute’s language is plain, the sole function of the courts—at least where the disposition required by the text is not absurd—is to enforce it according to its terms.” (internal quotation marks omitted)).

    195
    VI
    196

    To recapitulate, the objective of statutory interpretation is “to give effect to the intent of Congress.” American Trucking Assns., 310 U. S., at 542. Here, two congressional aims are evident. First, in enacting §602(a)(1), Congress intended to grant copyright owners permission to segment international markets by barring the importation of foreign-made copies into the United States. Second, as codification of the first sale doctrine underscores, Congress did not want the exclusive distribution right conferred in §106(3) to be boundless. Instead of harmonizing these objectives, the Court subordinates the first entirely to the second. It is unsurprising that none of the three major treatises on U. S. copyright law embrace the Court’s construction of §109(a). See 2 Nimmer §8.12[B][6][c], at [33] 8–184.34 to 8–184.35; 2 Goldstein §7.6.1.2(a), at 7:141; 4 Patry §§13:22, 13:44, 13:44.10.

    197

    Rather than adopting the very international-exhaustion rule the United States has consistently resisted in international-trade negotiations, I would adhere to the national-exhaustion framework set by the Copyright Act’s text and history. Under that regime, codified in §602(a)(1), Kirtsaeng’s unauthorized importation of the foreign-made textbooks involved in this case infringed Wiley’s copyrights. I would therefore affirm the Second Circuit’s judgment.

    198

    ----------

    199

    [1] Although Quality King concluded that the statute’s text foreclosed that outcome, see 523 U. S., at 151–152, the Solicitor General offered a cogent argument to the contrary. He reasoned that §109(a) does not limit §602(a)(1) because the former authorizes owners only to “sell” or “dispose” of copies—not to import them: The Act’s first-sale provision and its importation ban thus regulate separate, non-overlapping spheres of conduct. See Brief for United States as Amicus Curiae in Quality King, O. T. 1996, No. 96–1470, pp. 5, 8–10. That reading remains the Government’s preferred way of construing the statute. See Tr. of Oral Arg. 44 (“[W]e think that we still would adhere to our view that section 109(a) should not be read as a limitation on section 602(a)(1)”); see also ante, at 32–33; post, at 21, n. 15 (GINSBURG, J., dissenting).

    200

    [2] Indeed, allowing the copyright owner to restrict imports irrespective of the first-sale doctrine—i.e., reversing Quality King—would yield a far more sensible scheme of market segmentation than would adopting John Wiley’s argument here. That is because only the former approach turns on the intended market for copies; the latter rests instead on their place of manufacture. To see the difference, imagine that John Wiley prints all its textbooks in New York, but wants to distribute certain versions only in Thailand. Without Quality King, John Wiley could do so—i.e., produce books in New York, ship them to Thailand, and pre- vent anyone from importing them back into the United States. But with Quality King, that course is not open to John Wiley even under its reading of §109(a): To prevent someone like Kirtsaeng from re- importing the books—and so to segment the Thai market—John Wiley would have to move its printing facilities abroad. I can see no reason why Congress would have conditioned a copyright owner’s power to divide markets on outsourcing its manufacturing to a foreign country.

    201

    ---------

    202

    [1] In 2008, Congress renumbered what was previously §602(a) as §602(a)(1). See Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act of 2008 (PROIPA), §105(b)(2), 122 Stat. 4259. Like the Court, I refer to the provision by its current numbering.

    203

    [2] Although JUSTICE KAGAN’s concurrence suggests that Quality King erred in “holding that §109(a) limits §602(a)(1),” ante, at 2, that recent, unanimous holding must be taken as a given. See John R. Sand & Gravel Co. v. United States, 552 U. S. 130, 139 (2008) (“[S]tare decisis in respect to statutory interpretation has ‘special force,’ for ‘Congress remains free to alter what we have done.’ ” (quoting Patterson v. McLean Credit Union, 491 U. S. 164, 172–173 (1989))). The Court’s objective in this case should be to avoid unduly “constrict[ing] the scope of §602(a)(1)’s ban on unauthorized importation,” ante, at 1 (opinion of KAGAN, J.), while at the same time remaining faithful to Quality King’s holding and to the text and history of other Copyright Act provisions. This aim is not difficult to achieve. See Parts II–V, infra. JUSTICE KAGAN and I appear to agree to this extent: Congress meant the ban on unauthorized importation to have real force. See ante, at 3 (acknowledging that “Wiley may have a point about what §602(a)(1) was designed to do”).

    204

    [3] See Quality King Distributors, Inc. v. L’anza Research Int’l, Inc., 523 U. S. 135, 148, n. 20 (1998) (quoting Copyright Law Revision Part 4: Further Discussions and Comments on Preliminary Draft for Revised U. S. Copyright Law, 88th Cong., 2d Sess., 119 (H. R. Judiciary Comm. Print 1964) (hereinafter Copyright Law Revision Part 4) (statement of Harriet Pilpel)).

    205

    [4] The Court asserts that my position gives the word “lawfully” in §109(a) “little, if any, linguistic work to do.” Ante, at 9. That is not so. My reading gives meaning to each word in the phrase “lawfully made under this title.” The word “made” signifies that the conduct at issue is the creation or manufacture of a copy. See Webster’s Third New International Dictionary 1356 (1961) (defining “made” as “artificially produced by a manufacturing process”). The word “lawfully” indicates that for §109(a) to apply, the copy’s creation must have complied with some body of law. Finally, the prepositional phrase “under this title” clarifies what that body of law is—namely, the copyright prescriptions contained in Title 17 of the U. S. Code.

    206

    [5] Attempting to show that my reading of §109(a) is susceptible to the same criticism, the Court points to the now-repealed “manufacturing clause,” which required “copies of a work consisting preponderantly of nondramatic literary material . . . in the English language” to be “manufactured in the United States or Canada.” Copyright Act of 1976, §601(a), 90 Stat. 2588. Because Congress expressly referred to manufacturing in this provision, the Court contends, the phrase “lawfully made under this title” in §109(a) cannot mean “manufactured in the United States.” Ante, at 19. This argument is a non sequitur. I do not contend that the phrases “lawfully made under this title” and “manufactured in the United States” are interchangeable. To repeat, I read the phrase “lawfully made under this title” as referring to instances in which a copy’s creation is governed by, and conducted in compliance with, Title 17 of the U. S. Code. See supra, at 6. Not all copies “manufactured in the United States” will satisfy this standard. For example, piratical copies manufactured in the United States without the copyright owner’s authorization are not “lawfully made under [Title 17].” Nor would the phrase “lawfully manufactured in the United States” be an exact substitute for “lawfully made under this title.” The making of a copy may be lawful under Title 17 yet still violate some other provision of law. Consider, for example, a copy made with the copyright owner’s authorization by workers who are paid less than minimum wage. The copy would be “lawfully made under [Title 17]” in the sense that its creation would not violate any provision of that title, but the copy’s manufacturing would nonetheless be unlawful due to the violation of the minimum-wage laws.

    207

    [6] When §602(a)(1) was originally enacted in 1976, it played an additional role—providing a private cause of action against importers of piratical goods. See Quality King, 523 U. S., at 146. In 2008, however, Congress amended §602 to provide for such a cause of action in §602(a)(2), which prohibits the unauthorized “[i]mportation into the United States . . . of copies or phonorecords, the making of which either constituted an infringement of copyright, or which would have constituted an infringement of copyright if [Title 17] had been applicable.” See PROIPA, §105(b)(3), 122 Stat. 4259–4260. Thus, under the Court’s interpretation, the only conduct reached by §602(a)(1) but not §602(a)(2) is a nonowner’s unauthorized importation of a nonpiratical copy.

    208

    [7] Notably, the Court ignores the history of §602(a)(1), which reveals that the primary purpose of the prescription was not to provide a remedy against rogue licensees, consignees, and bailees, against whom copyright owners could frequently assert breach-of-contract claims even in the absence of §602(a)(1). Instead, the primary purpose of §602(a)(1) was to reach third-party importers, enterprising actors like Kirtsaeng, against whom copyright owners could not assert contract claims due to lack of privity. See Part III, infra.

    209

    [8] Section 602(a)(3) provides:

    210

    This subsection [i.e., §602(a)] does not apply to—

    (A) importation or exportation of copies or phonorecords under the authority or for the use of the Government of the United States or of any State or political subdivision of a State, but not including copies or phonorecords for use in schools, or copies of any audiovisual work imported for purposes other than archival use

    (B) importation or exportation, for the private use of the importer or exporter and not for distribution, by any person with respect to no more than one copy or phonorecord of any one work at any one time, or by any person arriving from outside the United States or departing from the United States with respect to copies or phonorecords forming part of such person’s personal baggage; or

    (C) importation by or for an organization operated for scholarly, educational, or religious purposes and not for private gain, with respect to no more than one copy of an audiovisual work solely for its archival purposes, and no more than five copies or phonorecords of any other work for its library lending or archival purposes, unless the importation of such copies or phonorecords is part of an activity consisting of systematic reproduction or distribution, engaged in by such organization in violation of the provisions of section 108(g)(2).

    211

    [9] The term “gray market good” refers to a good that is “imported outside the distribution channels that have been contractually negotiated by the intellectual property owner.” Forsyth & Rothnie, Parallel Imports, in The Interface Between Intellectual Property Rights and Competition Policy 429 (S. Andermaned. 2007). Such goods are also commonly called “parallel imports.” Ibid.

    212

    [10] The Court asserts that its reading of §109(a) is bolstered by §104, which extends the copyright “protection[s]” of Title 17 to a wide variety of foreign works. See ante, at 10–11. The “protection under this title” afforded by §104, however, is merely protection against infringing conduct within the United States, the only place where Title 17 applies. See 4 W. Patry, Copyright §13:44.10, pp. 13–128 to 13–129 (2012) (hereinafter Patry). Thus, my reading of the phrase “under this title” in §109(a) is consistent with Congress’ use of that phrase in §104. Fur thermore, §104 describes which works are entitled to copyright protection under U. S. law. But no one disputes that Wiley’s copyrights in the works at issue in this case are valid. The only question is whether Kirtsaeng’s importation of copies of those works infringed Wiley’s copyrights. It is basic to copyright law that “[o]wnership of a copyright. . . is distinct from ownership of any material object in which the work is embodied.” 17 U. S. C. §202. See also §101 (“ ‘Copies’ are material objects, other than phonorecords, in which a work is fixed by any method now known or later developed, and from which the work can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.”). Given the distinction copyright law draws between works and copies, §104 is inapposite to the question here presented. 4 Patry §13:44.10, at 13–129 (“There is no connection, linguistically or substantively, between Section[s] 104 and 109: Section 104 deals with national eligibility for the intangible work of authorship; Section 109(a) deals with the tangible, physical embodiment of the work, the ‘copy.’ ”).

    213

    [11] As the Court observes, ante, at 29, Irwin Karp of the Authors League of America stated at the 1964 panel discussion that §44(a) ran counter to “the very basic concept of copyright law that, once you’ve sold a copy legally, you can’t restrict its resale.” Copyright Law Revision Part 4, at 212. When asked if he was “presenting . . . an argument against” §44(a), however, Karp responded that he was “neutral on th[e] provision.” Id., at 211. There is thus little reason to believe that any changes to the wording of §44(a) before its codification in §602(a) were made in response to Karp’s discussion of “the problem of restricting [the] transfer of . . . lawfully obtained [foreign] copies.” Ibid.

    214

    [12] There is but one difference between this language from the 1965 bill and the corresponding language in the current version of §602(a)(1):

    215

    In the current version, the phrase “for the purpose of distribution to the public” is omitted and the phrase “that have been acquired outside the United States” appears in its stead. There are no material differences between the quoted language from the 1965 bill and the corresponding language contained in the 1964 bill. See Copyright Law Revision Part 6: Supplementary Report of the Register of Copyrights on the General Revision of the U. S. Copyright Law: 1965 Revision Bill, 89th Cong., 1st Sess., 292–293 (H. R. Judiciary Comm. Print 1965).

    216

    [13] The Court purports to find support for its position in the House and Senate Committee Reports on the 1976 Copyright Act. Ante, at 30–31. It fails to come up with anything in the Act’s legislative history, however, showing that Congress understood the words “lawfully made under this title” in §109(a) to encompass foreign-made copies.

    217

    [14] Chiappetta, The Desirability of Agreeing to Disagree: The WTO, TRIPS, International IPR Exhaustion and a Few Other Things, 21 Mich. J. Int’l L. 333, 340 (2000) (hereinafter Chiappetta) (internal quotation marks omitted).

    218

    [15] The Court states that my “reliance on the Solicitor General’s position in Quality King is undermined by his agreement in that case with [the] reading of §109(a)” that the Court today adopts. Ante, at 33. The United States’ principal concern in both Quality King and this case, however, has been to protect copyright owners’ “right to prevent parallel imports.” Brief for United States as Amicus Curiae in Quality King, O. T. 1997, No. 96–1470, p. 6 (hereinafter Quality King Brief). See also Brief for United States as Amicus Curiae 14 (arguing that Kirtsaeng’s interpretation of §109(a), which the Court adopts, would “subver[t] Section 602(a)(1)’s ban on unauthorized importation”). In Quality King, the Solicitor General urged this Court to hold that §109(a)’s codification of the first sale doctrine does not limit the right to control importation set forth in §602(a). Quality King Brief 7–30. After Quality King rejected that contention, the United States reconsidered its position, and it now endorses the interpretation of the §109(a) phrase “lawfully made under this title” I would adopt. Brief for United States as Amicus Curiae 6–7, 13–14.

    219

    [16] Congress hardly lacks capacity to provide for international exhaustion when that is its intent. Indeed, Congress has expressly provided for international exhaustion in the narrow context of semiconductor chips embodying protected “mask works.” See 17 U. S. C. §§905(2), 906(b). See also 2 M. Nimmer & D. Nimmer, Copyright §8A.06[E], p. 8A–37 (2012) (hereinafter Nimmer) (“[T]he first sale doctrine under [§906(b)] expressly immunizes unauthorized importation.”).

    220

    [17] Despite the Court’s suggestion to the contrary, this case in no way implicates the per se antitrust prohibition against horizontal “ ‘[a]greements between competitors to allocate territories to minimize competition.’ ” Ante, at 32 (quoting Palmer v. BRG of Ga., Inc., 498 U. S. 46, 49 (1990) (per curiam)). Wiley is not requesting authority to enter into collusive agreements with other textbook publishers that would, for example, make Wiley the exclusive supplier of textbooks on particular subjects within particular geographic regions. Instead, Wiley asserts no more than the prerogative to impose vertical restraints on the distribution of its own textbooks. See Hovenkamp, Post-Sale Restraints and Competitive Harm: The First Sale Doctrine in Perspec tive, 66 N. Y. U. Ann. Survey Am. L. 487, 488 (2011) (“vertical restraints” include “limits [on] the way a seller’s own product can be distributed”).

    221

    [18] As the Court observes, ante, at 32–33, the United States stated at oral argument that the types of “horribles” predicted in the Court’s opinion would, if they came to pass, be “worse than the frustration of market segmentation” that will result from the Court’s interpretation of §109(a). Tr. of Oral Arg. 51. The United States, however, recognized that this purported dilemma is a false one. As the United States explained, the Court’s horribles can be avoided while still giving meaningful effect to §602(a)(1)’s ban on unauthorized importation. Ibid.

    222

    [19] It appears that the Copyright Act of 1976 omitted the word “vend” and introduced the word “distribute” to avoid the “redundan[cy]” present in pre-1976 law. Copyright Law Revision: Report of the Register of Copyrights on the General Revision of the U. S. Copyright Law, 87th Cong., 1st Sess., 21 (H. R. Judiciary Comm. Print 1961) (noting that the exclusive rights to “publish” and “vend” works under the Copyright Act of 1947, §1(a), 61 Stat. 652–653, were “redundant”).

    223

    [20] My position that Bobbs-Merrill lives on as a limiting construction of the §106(3) distribution right does not leave §109(a) with no work to do. There can be little doubt that the books at issue in Bobbs-Merrill were published and first sold in the United States. See Bobbs-Merrill Co. v. Straus, 139 F. 155, 157 (CC SDNY 1905) (the publisher claiming copy- right infringement in Bobbs-Merrill was incorporated and had its principal office in Indiana). See also Copyright Act of 1891, §3, 26 Stat. 1107–1108 (generally prohibiting importation, even by the copyright owner, of foreign-manufactured copies of copyrighted books); 4 Patry §13:40, at 13–111 (under the Copyright Act of 1891, “copies of books by both foreign and U. S. authors had to be printed in the United States”). But cf. ante, at 18 (asserting, without acknowledging the 1891 Copy right Act’s general prohibition against the importation of foreign-made copies of copyrighted books, that the Court is unable to find any “geo graphical distinctions . . . in Bobbs-Merrill ”). Thus, exhaustion occurs under Bobbs-Merrill only when a copy is distributed within the United States with the copyright owner’s permission, not when it is distributed abroad. But under §109(a), as interpreted in Quality King, any author ized distribution of a U. S.-made copy, even a distribution occurring in a foreign country, exhausts the copyright owner’s distribution right under §106(3). See 523 U. S., at 145, n. 14. Section 109(a) therefore provides for exhaustion in a circumstance not reached by Bobbs-Merrill.

    224

    [21] Section 41 of the 1909 Act provided: “[N]othing in this Act shall be deemed to forbid, prevent, or restrict the transfer of any copy of a copyrighted work the possession of which has been lawfully obtained.” 35 Stat. 1084. This language was repeated without material change in §27 of the Copyright Act of 1947, 61 Stat. 660. As noted above, see supra, at 2, 17 U. S. C. §109(a) sets out the current codification of the first sale doctrine.

    225

    [22] A group of amici representing libraries expresses the concern that lower courts might interpret §602(a)(3)(C) as authorizing only the importing, but not the lending, of foreign-made copies of non-audiovisual works. See Brief for American Library Association et al. 20. The United States maintains, and I agree, however, that §602(a)(3)(C) “is fairly (and best) read as implicitly authorizing lending, in addition to importation, of all works other than audiovisual works.” Brief for United States as Amicus Curiae 30, n. 6.

    226

    [23] Title 17 U. S. C. §109(c) provides: “Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106(5), the owner of a particular copy lawfully made under this title, or any person authorized by such owner, is entitled, without the authority of the copyright owner, to display that copy publicly, either directly or by the projection of no more than one image at a time, to viewers present at the place where the copy is located.”

    227

    [24]The word “copy,” as it appears in §109(c), applies to the original of a work of art because the Copyright Act defines the term “copies” to “includ[e] the material object . . . in which the work is first fixed.” §101.

    228

    [25] Principles of fair use and implied license may also allow a U. S. tourist “who buys a copyrighted work of art, a poster, or . . . a bumper sticker” abroad to publicly “display it in America without the copyright owner’s further authorization.” Ante, at 15. (The tourist could lawfully bring the work of art, poster, or bumper sticker into the United States under 17 U. S. C. §602(a)(3)(B), which provides that §602(a)(1)’s importation ban does not apply to “importation . . . by any person arriving from outside the United States . . . with respect to copies . . . forming part of such person’s personal baggage.”). Furthermore, an individual clearly would not incur liability for infringement merely by displaying a foreign-made poster or other artwork in her home. See §106(5) (granting the owners of copyrights in “literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works” the exclusive right “to display the copyrighted work publicly” (emphasis added)). See also §101 (a work is displayed “publicly” if it is displayed “at a place open to the public or at any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered” (emphasis added)). Cf. 2 Nimmer §8.14[C][1], at 8–192.2(1) (“[A] performance limited to members of the family and invited guests is not a public performance.” (footnote omitted)).

    229

    [26] Exerting extensive control over secondary markets may not always be in a manufacturer’s best interest. Carmakers, for example, often trumpet the resale value of their vehicles. See, e.g., Nolan, UD grad leads Cadillac marketing, Dayton Daily News, Apr. 2, 2009, p. A8 (“Cadillac plays up its warranty coverage and reliable resale value to prospective customers.”). If the transaction costs of reselling vehicles were to rise, consumers’ perception of a new car’s value, and thus the price they are willing to pay for such a car, might fall—an outcome hardly favorable to automobile manufacturers.

    230

    [27] It should not be overlooked that the ability to prevent importation of foreign-made copies encourages copyright owners such as Wiley to offer copies of their works at reduced prices to consumers in less developed countries who might otherwise be unable to afford them. The Court’s holding, however, prevents copyright owners from barring the importation of such low-priced copies into the United States, where they will compete with the higher priced editions copyright owners make available for sale in this country. To protect their profit margins in the U. S. market, copyright owners may raise prices in less developed countries or may withdraw from such markets altogether. See Brief for United States as Amicus Curiae 26; Brief for Text and Academic Authors Association as Amicus Curiae 12; Brief for Association of American Publishers as Amicus Curiae 37. See also Chiappetta 357–358 (a rule of national exhaustion “encourages entry and participation in developing markets at lower, locally more affordable prices by eliminating them as risky sources of cheaper parallel imports back into premium markets”). Such an outcome would disserve consumers—and especially students—in developing nations and would hardly advance the “American foreign policy goals” of supporting education and economic development in such countries. Quality King Brief 25–26.

  • 2 American Broadcasting Companies v. Aereo (2014)

    1

    134 S.Ct. 2498 (2014)

    AMERICAN BROADCASTING COMPANIES, INC., ET AL., PETITIONERS,
    v.
    AEREO, INC., FKA BAMBOOM LABS, INC.

    No. 13-461.

    2

    Supreme Court of the United States.

    Argued April 22, 2014.
    Decided June 25, 2014.

    3

    BREYER, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and KENNEDY, GINSBURG, SOTOMAYOR, and KAGAN, JJ., joined. SCALIA, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which THOMAS and ALITO, JJ., joined.

    4
    JUSTICE BREYER, delivered the opinion of the Court.
    5

    The Copyright Act of 1976 gives a copyright owner the "exclusive righ[t]" to "perform the copyrighted work publicly." 17 U. S. C. §106(4). The Act's Transmit Clause defines that exclusive right as including the right to

    6

    "transmit or otherwise communicate a performance. . . of the [copyrighted] work . . . to the public, by means of any device or process, whether the members of the public capable of receiving the performance . . . receive it in the same place or in separate places and at the same time or at different times." §101.

    7

    We must decide whether respondent Aereo, Inc., infringes this exclusive right by selling its subscribers a technologically complex service that allows them to watch television programs over the Internet at about the same time as the programs are broadcast over the air. We conclude that it does.

    8
    I
    9
    A
    10

    For a monthly fee, Aereo offers subscribers broadcast television programming over the Internet, virtually as the programming is being broadcast. Much of this program-ming is made up of copyrighted works. Aereo neither owns the copyright in those works nor holds a license from the copyright owners to perform those works publicly.

    11

    Aereo's system is made up of servers, transcoders, and thousands of dime-sized antennas housed in a central warehouse. It works roughly as follows: First, when a subscriber wants to watch a show that is currently being broadcast, he visits Aereo's website and selects, from a list of the local programming, the show he wishes to see.

    12

    Second, one of Aereo's servers selects an antenna, which it dedicates to the use of that subscriber (and that subscriber alone) for the duration of the selected show. A server then tunes the antenna to the over-the-air broadcast carrying the show. The antenna begins to receive the broadcast, and an Aereo transcoder translates the signals received into data that can be transmitted over the Internet.

    13

    Third, rather than directly send the data to the subscriber, a server saves the data in a subscriber-specific folder on Aereo's hard drive. In other words, Aereo's system creates a subscriber-specific copy—that is, a "personal" copy—of the subscriber's program of choice.

    14

    Fourth, once several seconds of programming have been saved, Aereo's server begins to stream the saved copy of the show to the subscriber over the Internet. (The subscriber may instead direct Aereo to stream the program at a later time, but that aspect of Aereo's service is not before us.) The subscriber can watch the streamed program on the screen of his personal computer, tablet, smart phone, Internet-connected television, or other Internet-connected device. The streaming continues, a mere few seconds behind the over-the-air broadcast, until the subscriber has received the entire show. See A Dictionary of Computing 494 (6th ed. 2008) (defining "streaming" as "[t]he process of providing a steady flow of audio or video data so that an Internet user is able to access it as it is transmitted").

    15

    Aereo emphasizes that the data that its system streams to each subscriber are the data from his own personal copy, made from the broadcast signals received by the particular antenna allotted to him. Its system does not transmit data saved in one subscriber's folder to any other subscriber. When two subscribers wish to watch the same program, Aereo's system activates two separate antennas and saves two separate copies of the program in two separate folders. It then streams the show to the subscribers through two separate transmissions—each from the subscriber's personal copy.

    16
    B
    17

    Petitioners are television producers, marketers, distributors, and broadcasters who own the copyrights in many of the programs that Aereo's system streams to its subscribers. They brought suit against Aereo for copyright infringement in Federal District Court. They sought a preliminary injunction, arguing that Aereo was infringing their right to "perform" their works "publicly," as the Transmit Clause defines those terms.

    18

    The District Court denied the preliminary injunction. 874 F. Supp. 2d 373 (SDNY 2012). Relying on prior Circuit precedent, a divided panel of the Second Circuit affirmed. WNET, Thirteen v. Aereo, Inc., 712 F. 3d 676 (2013) (citing Cartoon Network LP, LLLP v. CSC Holdings, Inc., 536 F. 3d 121 (2008)). In the Second Circuit's view, Aereo does not perform publicly within the meaning of the Transmit Clause because it does not transmit "to the public." Rather, each time Aereo streams a program to a subscriber, it sends a private transmission that is available only to that subscriber. The Second Circuit denied rehearing en banc, over the dissent of two judges. WNET, Thirteen v. Aereo, Inc., 722 F. 3d 500 (2013). We granted certiorari.

    19
    II
    20

    This case requires us to answer two questions: First, in operating in the manner described above, does Aereo "perform" at all? And second, if so, does Aereo do so "publicly"? We address these distinct questions in turn.

    21

    Does Aereo "perform"? See §106(4) ("[T]he owner of [a] copyright . . . has the exclusive righ[t] . . . to perform the copyrighted work publicly" (emphasis added)); §101 ("To perform . . . a work `publicly' means [among other things] to transmit . . . a performance . . . of the work . . . to the public . . ." (emphasis added)). Phrased another way, does Aereo "transmit . . . a performance" when a subscriber watches a show using Aereo's system, or is it only the subscriber who transmits? In Aereo's view, it does not perform. It does no more than supply equipment that "emulate[s] the operation of a home antenna and [digital video recorder (DVR)]." Brief for Respondent 41. Like a home antenna and DVR, Aereo's equipment simply responds to its subscribers' directives. So it is only the subscribers who "perform" when they use Aereo's equipment to stream television programs to themselves.

    22

    Considered alone, the language of the Act does not clearly indicate when an entity "perform[s]" (or "transmit[s]") and when it merely supplies equipment that allows others to do so. But when read in light of its purpose, the Act is unmistakable: An entity that engages in activities like Aereo's performs.

    23
    A
    24

    History makes plain that one of Congress' primary purposes in amending the Copyright Act in 1976 was to overturn this Court's determination that community antenna television (CATV) systems (the precursors of modern cable systems) fell outside the Act's scope. In Fortnightly Corp. v. United Artists Television, Inc., 392 U. S. 390 (1968), the Court considered a CATV system that carried local television broadcasting, much of which was copyrighted, to its subscribers in two cities. The CATV provider placed antennas on hills above the cities and used coaxial cables to carry the signals received by the antennas to the home television sets of its subscribers. The system amplified and modulated the signals in order to improve their strength and efficiently transmit them to subscribers. A subscriber "could choose any of the . . . programs he wished to view by simply turning the knob on his own television set." Id., at 392. The CATV provider "neither edited the programs received nor originated any programs of its own." Ibid.

    25

    Asked to decide whether the CATV provider infringed copyright holders' exclusive right to perform their works publicly, the Court held that the provider did not "perform" at all. See 17 U. S. C. §1(c) (1964 ed.) (granting copyright holder the exclusive right to "perform . . . in public for profit" a nondramatic literary work), §1(d) (granting copyright holder the exclusive right to "perform. . . publicly" a dramatic work). The Court drew a line: "Broadcasters perform. Viewers do not perform." 392 U. S., at 398 (footnote omitted). And a CATV provider "falls on the viewer's side of the line." Id., at 399.

    26

    The Court reasoned that CATV providers were unlike broadcasters:

    27

    "Broadcasters select the programs to be viewed; CATV systems simply carry, without editing, whatever programs they receive. Broadcasters procure programs and propagate them to the public; CATV systems receive programs that have been released to the public and carry them by private channels to additional viewers." Id., at 400.

    28

    Instead, CATV providers were more like viewers, for "the basic function [their] equipment serves is little different from that served by the equipment generally furnished by" viewers. Id., at 399. "Essentially," the Court said, "a CATV system no more than enhances the viewer's capacity to receive the broadcaster's signals [by] provid[ing] a well-located antenna with an efficient connection to the viewer's television set." Ibid. Viewers do not become performers by using "amplifying equipment," and a CATV provider should not be treated differently for providing viewers the same equipment. Id., at 398-400.

    29

    In Teleprompter Corp. v. Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc., 415 U. S. 394 (1974), the Court considered the copyright liability of a CATV provider that carried broadcast television programming into subscribers' homes from hundreds of miles away. Although the Court recognized that a viewer might not be able to afford amplifying equipment that would provide access to those distant signals, it nonetheless found that the CATV provider was more like a viewer than a broadcaster. Id., at 408-409. It explained: "The reception and rechanneling of [broadcast television signals] for simultaneous viewing is essentially a viewer function, irrespective of the distance between the broadcasting station and the ultimate viewer." Id., at 408.

    30

    The Court also recognized that the CATV system exercised some measure of choice over what to transmit. But that fact did not transform the CATV system into a broadcaster. A broadcaster exercises significant creativity in choosing what to air, the Court reasoned. Id., at 410. In contrast, the CATV provider makes an initial choice about which broadcast stations to retransmit, but then "`simply carr[ies], without editing, whatever programs [it] receive[s].'" Ibid. (quoting Fortnightly, supra, at 400 (alterations in original)).

    31
    B
    32

    In 1976 Congress amended the Copyright Act in large part to reject the Court's holdings in Fortnightly and Teleprompter. See H. R. Rep. No. 94-1476, pp. 86-87 (1976) (hereinafter H. R. Rep.) (The 1976 amendments "completely overturned" this Court's narrow construction of the Act in Fortnightly and Teleprompter). Congress enacted new language that erased the Court's line between broadcaster and viewer, in respect to "perform[ing]" a work. The amended statute clarifies that to "perform" an audiovisual work means "to show its images in any sequence or to make the sounds accompanying it audible." §101; see ibid. (defining "[a]udiovisual works" as "works that consist of a series of related images which are intrinsically intended to be shown by the use of machines . . ., together with accompanying sounds"). Under this new language, both the broadcaster and the viewer of a television program "perform," because they both show the program's images and make audible the program's sounds. See H. R. Rep., at 63 ("[A] broadcasting network is performing when it transmits [a singer's performance of a song] . . . and any individual is performing whenever he or she . . . communicates the performance by turning on a receiving set").

    33

    Congress also enacted the Transmit Clause, which specifies that an entity performs publicly when it "transmit[s]. . . a performance . . . to the public." §101; see ibid. (defining "[t]o `transmit' a performance" as "to communicate it by any device or process whereby images or sounds are received beyond the place from which they are sent"). Cable system activities, like those of the CATV systems in Fortnightly and Teleprompter, lie at the heart of the activities that Congress intended this language to cover. See H. R. Rep., at 63 ("[A] cable television system is performing when it retransmits [a network] broadcast to its subscribers"); see also ibid. ("[T]he concep[t] of public performance. . . cover[s] not only the initial rendition or showing, but also any further act by which that rendition or showing is transmitted or communicated to the public"). The Clause thus makes clear that an entity that acts like a CATV system itself performs, even if when doing so, it simply enhances viewers' ability to receive broadcast television signals.

    34

    Congress further created a new section of the Act to regulate cable companies' public performances of copyrighted works. See §111. Section 111 creates a complex, highly detailed compulsory licensing scheme that sets out the conditions, including the payment of compulsory fees, under which cable systems may retransmit broadcasts. H. R. Rep., at 88 (Section 111 is primarily "directed at the operation of cable television systems and the terms and conditions of their liability for the retransmission of copyrighted works").

    35

    Congress made these three changes to achieve a similar end: to bring the activities of cable systems within the scope of the Copyright Act.

    36
    C
    37

    This history makes clear that Aereo is not simply an equipment provider. Rather, Aereo, and not just its subscribers, "perform[s]" (or "transmit[s]"). Aereo's activities are substantially similar to those of the CATV companies that Congress amended the Act to reach. See id., at 89 ("[C]able systems are commercial enterprises whose basic retransmission operations are based on the carriage of copyrighted program material"). Aereo sells a service that allows subscribers to watch television programs, many of which are copyrighted, almost as they are being broadcast. In providing this service, Aereo uses its own equipment, housed in a centralized warehouse, outside of its users' homes. By means of its technology (antennas, transcoders, and servers), Aereo's system "receive[s] programs that have been released to the public and carr[ies] them by private channels to additional viewers." Fortnightly, 392 U. S., at 400. It "carr[ies] . . . whatever programs [it] receive[s]," and it offers "all the programming" of each over-the-air station it carries. Id., at 392, 400.

    38

    Aereo's equipment may serve a "viewer function"; it may enhance the viewer's ability to receive a broadcaster's programs. It may even emulate equipment a viewer could use at home. But the same was true of the equipment that was before the Court, and ultimately before Congress, in Fortnightly and Teleprompter.

    39

    We recognize, and Aereo and the dissent emphasize, one particular difference between Aereo's system and the cable systems at issue in Fortnightly and Teleprompter. The systems in those cases transmitted constantly; they sent continuous programming to each subscriber's television set. In contrast, Aereo's system remains inert until a subscriber indicates that she wants to watch a program. Only at that moment, in automatic response to the subscriber's request, does Aereo's system activate an antenna and begin to transmit the requested program.

    40

    This is a critical difference, says the dissent. It means that Aereo's subscribers, not Aereo, "selec[t] the copyrighted content" that is "perform[ed]," post, at 4 (opinion of SCALIA, J.), and for that reason they, not Aereo, "transmit" the performance. Aereo is thus like "a copy shop that provides its patrons with a library card." Post, at 5. A copy shop is not directly liable whenever a patron uses the shop's machines to "reproduce" copyrighted materials found in that library. See §106(1) ("exclusive righ[t] . . . to reproduce the copyrighted work"). And by the same token, Aereo should not be directly liable whenever its patrons use its equipment to "transmit" copyrighted television programs to their screens.

    41

    In our view, however, the dissent's copy shop argument, in whatever form, makes too much out of too little. Given Aereo's overwhelming likeness to the cable companies targeted by the 1976 amendments, this sole technological difference between Aereo and traditional cable companies does not make a critical difference here. The subscribers of the Fortnightly and Teleprompter cable systems also selected what programs to display on their receiving sets. Indeed, as we explained in Fortnightly, such a subscriber "could choose any of the . . . programs he wished to view by simply turning the knob on his own television set." 392 U. S., at 392. The same is true of an Aereo subscriber. Of course, in Fortnightly the television signals, in a sense, lurked behind the screen, ready to emerge when the subscriber turned the knob. Here the signals pursue their ordinary course of travel through the universe until today's "turn of the knob"—a click on a website—activates machinery that intercepts and reroutes them to Aereo's subscribers over the Internet. But this difference means nothing to the subscriber. It means nothing to the broadcaster. We do not see how this single difference, invisible to subscriber and broadcaster alike, could transform a system that is for all practical purposes a traditional cable system into "a copy shop that provides its patrons with a library card."

    42

    In other cases involving different kinds of service or technology providers, a user's involvement in the operation of the provider's equipment and selection of the content transmitted may well bear on whether the provider performs within the meaning of the Act. But the many similarities between Aereo and cable companies, considered in light of Congress' basic purposes in amending the Copyright Act, convince us that this difference is not critical here. We conclude that Aereo is not just an equipment supplier and that Aereo "perform[s]."

    43
    III
    44

    Next, we must consider whether Aereo performs petitioners' works "publicly," within the meaning of the Transmit Clause. Under the Clause, an entity performs a work publicly when it "transmit[s] . . . a performance . . . of the work . . . to the public." §101. Aereo denies that it satisfies this definition. It reasons as follows: First, the "performance" it "transmit[s]" is the performance created by its act of transmitting. And second, because each of these performances is capable of being received by one and only one subscriber, Aereo transmits privately, not publicly. Even assuming Aereo's first argument is correct, its second does not follow.

    45

    We begin with Aereo's first argument. What performance does Aereo transmit? Under the Act, "[t]o `transmit' a performance . . . is to communicate it by any device or process whereby images or sounds are received beyond the place from which they are sent." Ibid. And "[t]o `perform'" an audiovisual work means "to show its images in any sequence or to make the sounds accompanying it audible." Ibid.

    46

    Petitioners say Aereo transmits a prior performance of their works. Thus when Aereo retransmits a network's prior broadcast, the underlying broadcast (itself a performance) is the performance that Aereo transmits. Aereo, as discussed above, says the performance it transmits is the new performance created by its act of transmitting. That performance comes into existence when Aereo streams the sounds and images of a broadcast program to a subscriber's screen.

    47

    We assume arguendo that Aereo's first argument is correct. Thus, for present purposes, to transmit a performance of (at least) an audiovisual work means to communicate contemporaneously visible images and contemporaneously audible sounds of the work. Cf. United States v. American Soc. of Composers, Authors and Publishers, 627 F. 3d 64, 73 (CA2 2010) (holding that a download of a work is not a performance because the data transmitted are not "contemporaneously perceptible"). When an Aereo subscriber selects a program to watch, Aereo streams the program over the Internet to that subscriber. Aereo thereby "communicate[s]" to the subscriber, by means of a "device or process," the work's images and sounds. §101. And those images and sounds are contemporaneously visible and audible on the subscriber's computer (or other Internet-connected device). So under our assumed definition, Aereo transmits a performance whenever its subscribers watch a program.

    48

    But what about the Clause's further requirement that Aereo transmit a performance "to the public"? As we have said, an Aereo subscriber receives broadcast television signals with an antenna dedicated to him alone. Aereo's system makes from those signals a personal copy of the selected program. It streams the content of the copy to the same subscriber and to no one else. One and only one subscriber has the ability to see and hear each Aereo transmission. The fact that each transmission is to only one subscriber, in Aereo's view, means that it does not transmit a performance "to the public."

    49

    In terms of the Act's purposes, these differences do not distinguish Aereo's system from cable systems, which do perform "publicly." Viewed in terms of Congress' regulatory objectives, why should any of these technological differences matter? They concern the behind-the-scenes way in which Aereo delivers television programming to its viewers' screens. They do not render Aereo's commercial objective any different from that of cable companies. Nor do they significantly alter the viewing experience of Aereo's subscribers. Why would a subscriber who wishes to watch a television show care much whether images and sounds are delivered to his screen via a large multisubscriber antenna or one small dedicated antenna, whether they arrive instantaneously or after a few seconds' delay, or whether they are transmitted directly or after a personal copy is made? And why, if Aereo is right, could not modern CATV systems simply continue the same commercial and consumer-oriented activities, free of copyright restrictions, provided they substitute such new technologies for old? Congress would as much have intended to protect a copyright holder from the unlicensed activities of Aereo as from those of cable companies.

    50

    The text of the Clause effectuates Congress' intent. Aereo's argument to the contrary relies on the premise that "to transmit . . . a performance" means to make a single transmission. But the Clause suggests that an entity may transmit a performance through multiple, discrete transmissions. That is because one can "transmit" or "communicate" something through a set of actions. Thus one can transmit a message to one's friends, irrespective of whether one sends separate identical e-mails to each friend or a single e-mail to all at once. So can an elected official communicate an idea, slogan, or speech to her constituents, regardless of whether she communicates that idea, slogan, or speech during individual phone calls to each constituent or in a public square.

    51

    The fact that a singular noun ("a performance") follows the words "to transmit" does not suggest the contrary. One can sing a song to his family, whether he sings the same song one-on-one or in front of all together. Similarly, one's colleagues may watch a performance of a particular play—say, this season's modern-dress version of "Measure for Measure"—whether they do so at separate or at the same showings. By the same principle, an entity may transmit a performance through one or several transmissions, where the performance is of the same work.

    52

    The Transmit Clause must permit this interpretation, for it provides that one may transmit a performance to the public "whether the members of the public capable of receiving the performance . . . receive it . . . at the same time or at different times." §101. Were the words "to transmit . . . a performance" limited to a single act of communication, members of the public could not receive the performance communicated "at different times." Therefore, in light of the purpose and text of the Clause, we conclude that when an entity communicates the same contemporaneously perceptible images and sounds to multiple people, it transmits a performance to them regardless of the number of discrete communications it makes.

    53

    We do not see how the fact that Aereo transmits via personal copies of programs could make a difference. The Act applies to transmissions "by means of any device or process." Ibid. And retransmitting a television program using user-specific copies is a "process" of transmitting a performance. A "cop[y]" of a work is simply a "material objec[t] . . . in which a work is fixed . . . and from which the work can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated." Ibid. So whether Aereo transmits from the same or separate copies, it performs the same work; it shows the same images and makes audible the same sounds. Therefore, when Aereo streams the same television program to multiple subscribers, it "transmit[s] . . . a performance" to all of them.

    54

    Moreover, the subscribers to whom Aereo transmits television programs constitute "the public." Aereo communicates the same contemporaneously perceptible images and sounds to a large number of people who are unrelated and unknown to each other. This matters because, although the Act does not define "the public," it specifies that an entity performs publicly when it performs at "any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered." Ibid. The Act thereby suggests that "the public" consists of a large group of people outside of a family and friends.

    55

    Neither the record nor Aereo suggests that Aereo's subscribers receive performances in their capacities as owners or possessors of the underlying works. This is relevant because when an entity performs to a set of people, whether they constitute "the public" often depends upon their relationship to the underlying work. When, for example, a valet parking attendant returns cars to their drivers, we would not say that the parking service provides cars "to the public." We would say that it provides the cars to their owners. We would say that a car dealership, on the other hand, does provide cars to the public, for it sells cars to individuals who lack a pre-existing relationship to the cars. Similarly, an entity that transmits a performance to individuals in their capacities as owners or possessors does not perform to "the public," whereas an entity like Aereo that transmits to large numbers of paying subscribers who lack any prior relationship to the works does so perform.

    56

    Finally, we note that Aereo's subscribers may receive the same programs at different times and locations. This fact does not help Aereo, however, for the Transmit Clause expressly provides that an entity may perform publicly "whether the members of the public capable of receiving the performance . . . receive it in the same place or in separate places and at the same time or at different times." Ibid. In other words, "the public" need not be situated together, spatially or temporally. For these reasons, we conclude that Aereo transmits a performance of petitioners' copyrighted works to the public, within the meaning of the Transmit Clause.

    57
    IV
    58

    Aereo and many of its supporting amici argue that to apply the Transmit Clause to Aereo's conduct will impose copyright liability on other technologies, including new technologies, that Congress could not possibly have wanted to reach. We agree that Congress, while intending the Transmit Clause to apply broadly to cable companies and their equivalents, did not intend to discourage or to control the emergence or use of different kinds of technologies. But we do not believe that our limited holding today will have that effect.

    59

    For one thing, the history of cable broadcast transmissions that led to the enactment of the Transmit Clause informs our conclusion that Aereo "perform[s]," but it does not determine whether different kinds of providers in different contexts also "perform." For another, an entity only transmits a performance when it communicates contemporaneously perceptible images and sounds of a work. See Brief for Respondent 31 ("[I]f a distributor . . . sells [multiple copies of a digital video disc] by mail to consumers, . . . [its] distribution of the DVDs merely makes it possible for the recipients to perform the work themselves—it is not a `device or process' by which the distributor publicly performs the work" (emphasis in original)).

    60

    Further, we have interpreted the term "the public" to apply to a group of individuals acting as ordinary members of the public who pay primarily to watch broadcast television programs, many of which are copyrighted. We have said that it does not extend to those who act as owners or possessors of the relevant product. And we have not considered whether the public performance right is infringed when the user of a service pays primarily for something other than the transmission of copyrighted works, such as the remote storage of content. See Brief for United States as Amicus Curiae 31 (distinguishing cloudbased storage services because they "offer consumers more numerous and convenient means of playing back copies that the consumers have already lawfully acquired" (emphasis in original)). In addition, an entity does not transmit to the public if it does not transmit to a substantial number of people outside of a family and its social circle.

    61

    We also note that courts often apply a statute's highly general language in light of the statute's basic purposes. Finally, the doctrine of "fair use" can help to prevent inappropriate or inequitable applications of the Clause. See Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc., 464 U. S. 417 (1984).

    62

    We cannot now answer more precisely how the Transmit Clause or other provisions of the Copyright Act will apply to technologies not before us. We agree with the Solicitor General that "[q]uestions involving cloud computing, [remote storage] DVRs, and other novel issues not before the Court, as to which `Congress has not plainly marked [the] course,' should await a case in which they are squarely presented." Brief for United States as Amicus Curiae 34 (quoting Sony, supra, at 431 (alteration in original)). And we note that, to the extent commercial actors or other interested entities may be concerned with the relationship between the development and use of such technologies and the Copyright Act, they are of course free to seek action from Congress. Cf. Digital Millennium Copyright Act, 17 U. S. C. §512.

    63

    * * *

    64

    In sum, having considered the details of Aereo's practices, we find them highly similar to those of the CATV systems in Fortnightly and Teleprompter. And those are activities that the 1976 amendments sought to bring within the scope of the Copyright Act. Insofar as there are differences, those differences concern not the nature of the service that Aereo provides so much as the technological manner in which it provides the service. We conclude that those differences are not adequate to place Aereo's activities outside the scope of the Act.

    65

    For these reasons, we conclude that Aereo "perform[s]" petitioners' copyrighted works "publicly," as those terms are defined by the Transmit Clause. We therefore reverse the contrary judgment of the Court of Appeals, and we remand the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

    66

    It is so ordered.

    67
    JUSTICE SCALIA, with whom JUSTICE THOMAS and JUSTICE ALITO join, dissenting.
    68

    This case is the latest skirmish in the long-running copyright battle over the delivery of television program-ming. Petitioners, a collection of television networks and affiliates (Networks), broadcast copyrighted programs on the public airwaves for all to see. Aereo, respondent, operates an automated system that allows subscribers to receive, on Internet-connected devices, programs that they select, including the Networks' copyrighted programs. The Networks sued Aereo for several forms of copyright infringement, but we are here concerned with a single claim: that Aereo violates the Networks'"exclusive righ[t]" to "perform" their programs "publicly." 17 U. S. C. §106(4). That claim fails at the very outset because Aereo does not "perform" at all. The Court manages to reach the opposite conclusion only by disregarding widely accepted rules for service-provider liability and adopting in their place an improvised standard ("looks-like-cable-TV") that will sow confusion for years to come.

    69
    I. Legal Standard
    70

    There are two types of liability for copyright infringement: direct and secondary. As its name suggests, the former applies when an actor personally engages in infringing conduct. See Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc., 464 U. S. 417, 433 (1984). Secondary liability, by contrast, is a means of holding defendants responsible for infringement by third parties, even when the defendants "have not themselves engaged in the infringing activity." Id., at 435. It applies when a defendant "intentionally induc[es] or encourag[es]" infringing acts by others or profits from such acts "while declining to exercise a right to stop or limit [them]." Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd., 545 U. S. 913, 930 (2005).

    71

    Most suits against equipment manufacturers and service providers involve secondary-liability claims. For example, when movie studios sued to block the sale of Sony's Betamax videocassette recorder (VCR), they argued that Sony was liable because its customers were making unauthorized copies. See Sony, supra, at 434-435. Record labels and movie studios relied on a similar theory when they sued Grokster and StreamCast, two providers of peer-to-peer file-sharing software. See Grokster, supra, at 920-921, 927.

    72

    This suit, or rather the portion of it before us here, is fundamentally different. The Networks claim that Aereo directly infringes their public-performance right. Accordingly, the Networks must prove that Aereo "perform[s]" copyrighted works, §106(4), when its subscribers log in, select a channel, and push the "watch" button. That process undoubtedly results in a performance; the question is who does the performing. See Cartoon Network LP, LLLP v. CSC Holdings, Inc., 536 F. 3d 121, 130 (CA2 2008). If Aereo's subscribers perform but Aereo does not, the claim necessarily fails.

    73

    The Networks' claim is governed by a simple but profoundly important rule: A defendant may be held directly liable only if it has engaged in volitional conduct that violates the Act. See 3 W. Patry, Copyright §9:5.50 (2013). This requirement is firmly grounded in the Act's text, which defines "perform" in active, affirmative terms: One "perform[s]" a copyrighted "audiovisual work," such as a movie or news broadcast, by "show[ing] its images in any sequence" or "mak[ing] the sounds accompanying it audible." §101. And since the Act makes it unlawful to copy or perform copyrighted works, not to copy or perform in general, see §501(a), the volitional-act requirement demands conduct directed to the plaintiff's copyrighted material, see Sony, supra, at 434. Every Court of Appeals to have considered an automated-service provider's direct liability for copyright infringement has adopted that rule. See Fox Broadcasting Co. v. Dish Network LLC, 747 F. 3d 1060, 1066-1068 (CA9 2014); Cartoon Network, supra, at 130-131 (CA2 2008); CoStar Group, Inc. v. LoopNet, Inc., 373 F. 3d 544, 549-550 (CA4 2004).[1] Although we have not opined on the issue, our cases are fully consistent with a volitional-conduct requirement. For example, we gave several examples of direct infringement in Sony, each of which involved a volitional act directed to the plaintiff's copyrighted material. See 464 U. S., at 437, n. 18.

    74

    The volitional-conduct requirement is not at issue in most direct-infringement cases; the usual point of dispute is whether the defendant's conduct is infringing (e.g., Does the defendant's design copy the plaintiff's?), rather than whether the defendant has acted at all (e.g., Did this defendant create the infringing design?). But it comes right to the fore when a direct-infringement claim is lodged against a defendant who does nothing more than operate an automated, user-controlled system. See, e.g., Fox Broadcasting, supra, at 1067; Cartoon Network, supra, at 131. Internet-service providers are a prime example. When one user sends data to another, the provider's equipment facilitates the transfer automatically. Does that mean that the provider is directly liable when the transmission happens to result in the "reproduc[tion]," §106(1), of a copyrighted work? It does not. The provider's system is "totally indifferent to the material's content," whereas courts require "some aspect of volition" directed at the copyrighted material before direct liability may be imposed. CoStar, 373 F. 3d, at 550-551.[2] The defendant may be held directly liable only if the defendant itself "trespassed on the exclusive domain of the copyright owner." Id., at 550. Most of the time that issue will come down to who selects the copyrighted content: the defendant or its customers. See Cartoon Network, supra, at 131-132.

    75

    A comparison between copy shops and video-on-demand services illustrates the point. A copy shop rents out photocopiers on a per-use basis. One customer might copy his 10-year-old's drawings—a perfectly lawful thing to do— while another might duplicate a famous artist's copyrighted photographs—a use clearly prohibited by §106(1). Either way, the customer chooses the content and activates the copying function; the photocopier does nothing except in response to the customer's commands. Because the shop plays no role in selecting the content, it cannot be held directly liable when a customer makes an infringing copy. See CoStar, supra, at 550.

    76

    Video-on-demand services, like photocopiers, respond automatically to user input, but they differ in one crucial respect: They choose the content. When a user signs in to Netflix, for example, "thousands of . . . movies [and] TV episodes" carefully curated by Netflix are "available to watch instantly." See How [D]oes Netflix [W]ork?, online at http://help.netflix.com/en/node/412 (as visited June 20, 2014, and available in Clerk of Court's case file). That selection and arrangement by the service provider constitutes a volitional act directed to specific copyrighted works and thus serves as a basis for direct liability.

    77

    The distinction between direct and secondary liability would collapse if there were not a clear rule for determining whether the defendant committed the infringing act. See Cartoon Network, 536 F. 3d, at 132-133. The volitional-conduct requirement supplies that rule; its purpose is not to excuse defendants from accountability, but to channel the claims against them into the correct analytical track. See Brief for 36 Intellectual Property and Copyright Law Professors as Amici Curiae 7. Thus, in the example given above, the fact that the copy shop does not choose the content simply means that its culpability will be assessed using secondary-liability rules rather than direct-liability rules. See Sony, supra, at 434-442; Cartoon Network, supra, at 132-133.

    78
    II. Application to Aereo
    79

    So which is Aereo: the copy shop or the video-on-demand service? In truth, it is neither. Rather, it is akin to a copy shop that provides its patrons with a library card. Aereo offers access to an automated system consisting of routers, servers, transcoders, and dime-sized antennae. Like a photocopier or VCR, that system lies dormant until a subscriber activates it. When a subscriber selects a program, Aereo's system picks up the relevant broadcast signal, translates its audio and video components into digital data, stores the data in a user-specific file, and transmits that file's contents to the subscriber via the Internet—at which point the subscriber's laptop, tablet, or other device displays the broadcast just as an ordinary television would. The result of that process fits the statutory definition of a performance to a tee: The subscriber's device "show[s]" the broadcast's "images" and "make[s] the sounds accompanying" the broadcast "audible." §101. The only question is whether those performances are the product of Aereo's volitional conduct.

    80

    They are not. Unlike video-on-demand services, Aereo does not provide a prearranged assortment of movies and television shows. Rather, it assigns each subscriber an antenna that—like a library card—can be used to obtain whatever broadcasts are freely available. Some of those broadcasts are copyrighted; others are in the public domain. The key point is that subscribers call all the shots: Aereo's automated system does not relay any program, copyrighted or not, until a subscriber selects the program and tells Aereo to relay it. Aereo's operation of that system is a volitional act and a but-for cause of the resulting performances, but, as in the case of the copy shop, that degree of involvement is not enough for direct liability. See Grokster, 545 U. S., at 960 (BREYER, J., concurring) ("[T]he producer of a technology which permits unlawful copying does not himself engage in unlawful copying").

    81

    In sum, Aereo does not "perform" for the sole and simple reason that it does not make the choice of content. And because Aereo does not perform, it cannot be held directly liable for infringing the Networks' public-performance right.[3] That conclusion does not necessarily mean that Aereo's service complies with the Copyright Act. Quite the contrary. The Networks' complaint alleges that Aereo is directly and secondarily liable for infringing their publicperformance rights (§106(4)) and also their reproduction rights (§106(1)). Their request for a preliminary injunction—the only issue before this Court—is based exclusively on the direct-liability portion of the public-performance claim (and further limited to Aereo's "watch" function, as opposed to its "record" function). See App. to Pet. for Cert. 60a-61a. Affirming the judgment below would merely return this case to the lower courts for consideration of the Networks' remaining claims.

    82
    III. Guilt By Resemblance
    83

    The Court's conclusion that Aereo performs boils down to the following syllogism: (1) Congress amended the Act to overrule our decisions holding that cable systems do not perform when they retransmit over-the-air broadcasts;[4] (2) Aereo looks a lot like a cable system; therefore (3) Aereo performs. Ante, at 4-10. That reasoning suffers from a trio of defects.

    84

    First, it is built on the shakiest of foundations. Perceiving the text to be ambiguous, ante, at 4, the Court reaches out to decide the case based on a few isolated snippets of legislative history, ante, at 7-8 (citing H. R. Rep. No. 94-1476 (1976)). The Court treats those snippets as authoritative evidence of congressional intent even though they come from a single report issued by a committee whose members make up a small fraction of one of the two Houses of Congress. Little else need be said here about the severe shortcomings of that interpretative methodology. See Lawson v. FMR LLC, 571 U. S. ___, ___ (2014) (SCALIA, J., concurring in principal part and concurring in judgment) (slip op., at 1-2).

    85

    Second, the Court's reasoning fails on its own terms because there are material differences between the cable systems at issue in Teleprompter Corp. v. Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc., 415 U. S. 394 (1974), and Fortnightly Corp. v. United Artists Television, Inc., 392 U. S. 390 (1968), on the one hand and Aereo on the other. The former (which were then known as community-antenna television systems) captured the full range of broadcast signals and forwarded them to all subscribers at all times, whereas Aereo transmits only specific programs selected by the user, at specific times selected by the user. The Court acknowledges this distinction but blithely concludes that it "does not make a critical difference." Ante, at 10. Even if that were true, the Court fails to account for other salient differences between the two technologies.[5] Though cable systems started out essentially as dumb pipes that routed signals from point A to point B, see ante, at 5, by the 1970's, that kind of service "`no longer exist[ed],'" Brief for Petitioners in Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc. v. Teleprompter Corp., O. T. 1973, No. 72-1633, p. 22. At the time of our Teleprompter decision, cable companies "perform[ed] the same functions as `broadcasters' by deliberately selecting and importing distant signals, originating programs, [and] selling commercials," id., at 20, thus making them curators of content—more akin to video-ondemand services than copy shops. So far as the record reveals, Aereo does none of those things.

    86

    Third, and most importantly, even accepting that the 1976 amendments had as their purpose the overruling of our cable-TV cases, what they were meant to do and how they did it are two different questions—and it is the latter that governs the case before us here. The injury claimed is not violation of a law that says operations similar to cable TV are subject to copyright liability, but violation of §106(4) of the Copyright Act. And whatever soothing reasoning the Court uses to reach its result ("this looks like cable TV"), the consequence of its holding is that someone who implements this technology "perform[s]" under that provision. That greatly disrupts settled jurisprudence which, before today, applied the straightforward, bright-line test of volitional conduct directed at the copyrighted work. If that test is not outcome determinative in this case, presumably it is not outcome determinative elsewhere as well. And it is not clear what the Court proposes to replace it. Perhaps the Court means to adopt (invent, really) a two-tier version of the Copyright Act, one part of which applies to "cable companies and their equivalents" while the other governs everyone else. Ante, at 9-10, 16.

    87

    The rationale for the Court's ad hoc rule for cablesystem lookalikes is so broad that it renders nearly a third of the Court's opinion superfluous. Part II of the opinion concludes that Aereo performs because it resembles a cable company, and Congress amended the Act in 1976 "to bring the activities of cable systems within [its] scope." Ante, at 8. Part III of the opinion purports to address separately the question whether Aereo performs "publicly." Ante, at 10-15. Trouble is, that question cannot remain open if Congress's supposed intent to regulate whatever looks like a cable company must be given legal effect (as the Court says in Part II). The Act reaches only public performances, see §106(4), so Congress could not have regulated "the activities of cable systems" without deeming their retransmissions public performances. The upshot is this: If Aereo's similarity to a cable company means that it performs, then by necessity that same characteristic means that it does so publicly, and Part III of the Court's opinion discusses an issue that is no longer relevant—though discussing it certainly gives the opinion the "feel" of real textual analysis.

    88

    Making matters worse, the Court provides no criteria for determining when its cable-TV-lookalike rule applies. Must a defendant offer access to live television to qualify? If similarity to cable-television service is the measure, then the answer must be yes. But consider the implications of that answer: Aereo would be free to do exactly what it is doing right now so long as it built mandatory time shifting into its "watch" function.[6] Aereo would not be providing live television if it made subscribers wait to tune in until after a show's live broadcast ended. A subscriber could watch the 7 p.m. airing of a 1-hour program any time after 8 p.m. Assuming the Court does not intend to adopt such a do-nothing rule (though it very well may), there must be some other means of identifying who is and is not subject to its guilt-by-resemblance regime.

    89

    Two other criteria come to mind. One would cover any automated service that captures and stores live television broadcasts at a user's direction. That can't be right, since it is exactly what remote storage digital video recorders (RS-DVRs) do, see Cartoon Network, 536 F. 3d, at 124-125, and the Court insists that its "limited holding" does not decide the fate of those devices, ante, at 16-17. The other potential benchmark is the one offered by the Government: The cable-TV-lookalike rule embraces any entity that "operates an integrated system, substantially dependent on physical equipment that is used in common by [its] subscribers." Brief for United States as Amicus Curiae 20. The Court sensibly avoids that approach because it would sweep in Internet service providers and a host of other entities that quite obviously do not perform.

    90

    That leaves as the criterion of cable-TV-resemblance nothing but th'ol' totality-of-the-circumstances test (which is not a test at all but merely assertion of an intent to perform test-free, ad hoc, case-by-case evaluation). It will take years, perhaps decades, to determine which automated systems now in existence are governed by the traditional volitional-conduct test and which get the Aereo treatment. (And automated systems now in contemplation will have to take their chances.) The Court vows that its ruling will not affect cloud-storage providers and cabletelevision systems, see ante, at 16-17, but it cannot deliver on that promise given the imprecision of its result-driven rule. Indeed, the difficulties inherent in the Court's makeshift approach will become apparent in this very case. Today's decision addresses the legality of Aereo's "watch" function, which provides nearly contemporaneous access to live broadcasts. On remand, one of the first questions the lower courts will face is whether Aereo's "record" function, which allows subscribers to save a program while it is airing and watch it later, infringes the Networks' public-performance right. The volitionalconduct rule provides a clear answer to that question: Because Aereo does not select the programs viewed by its users, it does not perform. But it is impossible to say how the issue will come out under the Court's analysis, since cable companies did not offer remote recording and playback services when Congress amended the Copyright Act in 1976.

    91

    * * *

    92

    I share the Court's evident feeling that what Aereo is doing (or enabling to be done) to the Networks' copyrighted programming ought not to be allowed. But perhaps we need not distort the Copyright Act to forbid it. As discussed at the outset, Aereo's secondary liability for performance infringement is yet to be determined, as is its primary and secondary liability for reproduction infringement. If that does not suffice, then (assuming one shares the majority's estimation of right and wrong) what we have before us must be considered a "loophole" in the law. It is not the role of this Court to identify and plug loopholes. It is the role of good lawyers to identify and exploit them, and the role of Congress to eliminate them if it wishes. Congress can do that, I may add, in a much more targeted, better informed, and less disruptive fashion than the crude "looks-like-cable-TV" solution the Court invents today.

    93

    We came within one vote of declaring the VCR contraband 30 years ago in Sony. See 464 U. S., at 441, n. 21. The dissent in that case was driven in part by the plaintiffs' prediction that VCR technology would wreak all manner of havoc in the television and movie industries. See id., at 483 (opinion of Blackmun, J.); see also Brief for CBS, Inc., as Amicus Curiae, O. T. 1982, No. 81-1687, p. 2 (arguing that VCRs "directly threatened" the bottom line of "[e]very broadcaster").

    94

    The Networks make similarly dire predictions about Aereo. We are told that nothing less than "the very existence of broadcast television as we know it" is at stake. Brief for Petitioners 39. Aereo and its amici dispute those forecasts and make a few of their own, suggesting that a decision in the Networks' favor will stifle technological innovation and imperil billions of dollars of investments in cloud-storage services. See Brief for Respondents 48-51; Brief for BSA, The Software Alliance as Amicus Curiae 5-13. We are in no position to judge the validity of those self-interested claims or to foresee the path of future technological development. See Sony, supra, at 430-431; see also Grokster, 545 U. S., at 958 (BREYER, J., concurring). Hence, the proper course is not to bend and twist the Act's terms in an effort to produce a just outcome, but to apply the law as it stands and leave to Congress the task of deciding whether the Copyright Act needs an upgrade. I conclude, as the Court concluded in Sony: "It may well be that Congress will take a fresh look at this new technology, just as it so often has examined other innovations in the past. But it is not our job to apply laws that have not yet been written. Applying the copyright statute, as it now reads, to the facts as they have been developed in this case, the judgment of the Court of Appeals must be [affirmed]." 464 U. S., at 456.

    95

    I respectfully dissent.

    96

    [1] An unpublished decision of the Third Circuit is to the same effect. Parker v. Google, Inc., 242 Fed. Appx. 833, 836-837 (2007) (per curiam).

    97

    The Networks muster only one case they say stands for a different approach, New York Times Co. v. Tasini, 533 U. S. 483 (2001). Reply Brief 18. But Tasini is clearly inapposite; it dealt with the question whether the defendants' copying was permissible, not whether the defendants were the ones who made the copies. See 533 U. S., at 487-488, 492, 504-506.

    98

    [2] Congress has enacted several safe-harbor provisions applicable to automated network processes, see, e.g., 17 U. S. C. §512(a)-(b), but those provisions do not foreclose "any other defense," §512(l), including a volitional-conduct defense.

    99

    [3] Because I conclude that Aereo does not perform at all, I do not reach the question whether the performances in this case are to the public. See ante, at 10-15.

    100

    [4] See Teleprompter Corp. v. Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc., 415 U. S. 394 (1974); Fortnightly Corp. v. United Artists Television, Inc., 392 U. S. 390 (1968).

    101

    [5] The Court observes that "[t]he subscribers of the Fortnightly and Teleprompter cable systems . . . selected what programs to display on their receiving sets," but acknowledges that those choices were possible only because "the television signals, in a sense, lurked behind the screen, ready to emerge when the subscriber turned the knob." Ante, at 10. The latter point is dispositive: The signals were "ready to emerge" because the cable system—much like a video-on-demand provider— took affirmative, volitional steps to put them there. As discussed above, the same cannot be said of the programs available through Aereo's automated system.

    102

    [6] Broadcasts accessible through the "watch" function are technically not live because Aereo's servers take anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes to begin transmitting data to a subscriber's device. But the resulting delay is so brief that it cannot reasonably be classified as time shifting.

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