By Bill Mears, CNN
Washington (CNN) - Supap Kirtsaeng had tuition and living expenses to pay when he arrived in the United States from Thailand to attend college.
So he started a side business, asking family and friends back home to ship him foreign editions of textbooks that often can be bought more cheaply overseas. Kirtsaeng resold them online and made money, but he was sued for copyright infringement and lost.
That decision was appealed and the case is now before the Supreme Court, which will hear arguments on Monday in a dispute that has attracted interest from the Obama administration, media and publishing companies, and a range of consumer and retail groups.
Competing claims of intellectual property and owners rights in the electronic age have made Kirtsaeng's venture one of the most closely watched business cases at the high court this term.
"I have to say the Supreme Court is faced with a really difficult job here because the text of the [copyright] statute really seems to be hard to reconcile - the two provisions at issue seem to say opposite things," said Michael Carroll, a professor at American University's law school and an intellectual property expert.
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