Wednesday, March 23, 2016


When I picked up my copy of the cheapo paperback edition of a certain mathematical classic probably known to every math grad student, I happened to notice a fairly bold notice in the upper left hand corner of the cover:

Circulation of this edition outside the Indian Subcontinent is UNAUTHORIZED.

I had a momentary picture of jackbooted Indian Army thugs breaking down my door to seize the UNAUTHORIZED property. Then I realized that India probably didn't give a crap. The jackbooted thugs would likely represent some more domestic publishing organization, like the one that charges six or eight times as much for its US edition. It's hardly a pirated copy, since the publisher name is the Indian branch of the same corporation. Also, I purchased the book from a famous mail order house which shares its name with a big South American river.

In any case, it makes me wonder about the exact legal status of such cheap editions intended for, say, the Indian subcontinent. Is it legal to import them? To sell them in the US? Anybody know?

UPDATE: The NYT has the Story: Excerpts:

Vikas Rajkumar, an engineering student at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., has found a way to save up to $1,000 a year on textbooks. He buys them in India when he visits his home there, or has relatives ship them to him...

There are no penalties for students who import books for their own use, under a 1998 Supreme Court decision that ruled that manufacturers who sell goods more cheaply overseas than in the United States have no protection against having their products sold back to the American market. But businesses or individuals who buy books for resale outside India could face prosecution for copyright infringement.


Mr. Chittranshi said one of the first signs of the trend was the mushrooming in India of Web sites devoted to textbook sales, even though few Indian students buy books online. A quick Internet search reveals many sites selling books, many labeled "Special Indian Edition" at big discounts. For instance, one electrical engineering book, "Analog Signal Processing," was found for under $8, compared with $140 on

President Trump will fix this "problem" by getting India to pay for a high wall - or maybe by carpet bombing Indian printers