Articles Tagged with oral arguments


On Monday, in the shadow of then-Hurricane (now-Superstorm) Sandy, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., a case involving the applicability of U.S. copyright law to copies of works created and legally acquired abroad and subsequently imported into the United States.

In the case, Supap Kirtsaeng, a college student from Thailand studying in the United States, launched a small online business selling textbooks. His family in Thailand bought foreign edition textbooks printed by Wiley Asia and mailed them to Kirtsaeng. Kirtsaeng then sold the textbooks online on sites such as and reimbursed his family for the costs of purchase and shipping, retaining the remaining profits from the sale.

John Wiley & Sons subsequently sued Kirtsaeng in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, alleging copyright infringement, trademark infringement, and unfair competition under New York state law. As to the copyright claim, the district court judge determined that the language in 17 U.S.C. § 109(a), known as the “first sale doctrine,” does not include copyrighted goods manufactured abroad.

Posted in: Copyright, Laws

The U.S. Supreme Court started its term today, hearing oral arguments for Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum. The case involves the interpretation of a federal statute enacted by the first Congress as part of the Judiciary Act of 1879—the Alien Tort Statute.

The Alien Tort Statute (ATS) provides that “[t]he district courts shall have original jurisdiction of any civil action by an alien for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.” The statute was all but unused until 1980, when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled in Filartiga v. Pena-Irala that the ATS conferred jurisdiction over a lawsuit brought by a foreign national against another foreign national over actions that took place overseas. Since that ruling, the ATS has come up a handful of times, but only once previously before the Supreme Court.

In Kiobel, the case the Supreme Court heard today, twelve Nigerian nationals sued three European oil companies for helping the Nigerian government to kill and torture civilians. The case was originally filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, and the district court dismissed all claims against the corporate defendants, finding that the ATS imposes liability only against individuals, not corporations. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the claims.

The Supreme Court originally granted review in October 2011, but only as to the question whether the ATS applies to corporate conduct abroad. Shortly after hearing arguments on that issue in February 2012, the Court ordered supplemental briefing on the question whether an ATS claim could proceed when the conduct giving rise to the claim occurred wholly outside of the United States. Today’s oral argument focused on this second question.

Posted in: Legal News

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone, but there’s still time to get terrific gifts for lawyers and clients.  Here are some of our favs:

  • The Apple iPad —  It’s sleek, small, and über cool. It holds nifty free legal apps like Fastcase to find state and federal statutes and cases and Oyez’s PocketJustice that let’s lawyers listen to Supreme Court oral arguments.  When your attorney friend is done raging at opposing counsel’s latest outrageous offer to their client, the attorney can vent his or her anger by playing Angry Birds or Star Wars Falcon Gunner. Plus, it makes them (and everyone they meet) think that they’re a swell lawyer, right?
  • Adopt a Volume of the Federal Reporter — No, we’re not crazy (at least not all the time)!  For $1,200, you can actually make a tax-deductible donation to Public.Resource.Org to support scanning a volume or two of the first series of the Federal Reporter of the United States in the name of your favorite lawyer or law firm.  The donation is to help them “adopt” a volume of federal case law  from 1880 – 1924 that is now in the public domain.

The U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would make audio of oral arguments available online. Will you be listening?