Golan v. Holder

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Golan v. Holder
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued October 5, 2011
Decided January 18, 2012
Full case name Golan, et al., v. Holder (Attorney General), et al.
Docket nos. 10-545
Citations 565 U.S. ___ (more)
132 S.Ct. 873
Prior history On writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
Holding
"Limited time" language of Copyright Clause does not preclude the extension of copyright protections to works previously in the public domain. Tenth Circuit affirmed.
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Ginsburg, joined by Roberts, Kennedy, Scalia, Sotomayor, Thomas
Dissent Breyer, joined by Alito
Kagan took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.
Laws applied
Uruguay Round Agreements Act, Copyright Clause

Golan v. Holder,[1] 565 U.S. ___ (2012), was a United States Supreme Court case, originally filed on September 19, 2001,[2] challenging the constitutionality of the application of Section 514 of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act, a treaty seeking to equalize copyright protection on an international basis. In the United States, the Act restored copyright status to foreign works previously in the public domain. The two main arguments against the application of the Act in the case were that restoring copyright violates the "limited time" language of the United States Constitution's Copyright Clause, and that restoring to copyright works that had passed into the public domain interferes with the peoples' First Amendment right to use, copy and otherwise exploit the works and to freely express themselves through these works, thus also violating the Constitution's Copyright Clause.[3]

The US Supreme Court held on January 18, 2012 that Section 514 of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act does not exceed Congress's authority under the Copy­right Clause, and the court affirmed the judgment of the lower court by 6-2, with the opinion written by Justice Ginsburg.[3][4] The practical effect of the decision is to confirm that works that were previously free to use, such as Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, are no longer in the public domain and are subject to use only with the permission of the copyright holder, such as through paid licensing.[5]

History[edit]

After the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the 1998 Copyright Term Extension Act in Eldred v. Ashcroft (2003), the United States District Court for the District of Colorado dismissed the plaintiffs' challenge to that act in 2004 (Golan v. Ashcroft).[6] The remaining constitutional challenge to the 1994 Uruguay Round Agreements Act was dismissed the following year (Golan v. Gonzales).[7]

The case affected the copyright status of potentially millions of works,[8] including:[citation needed]

The case was heard by District Chief Judge Lewis T. Babcock and was decided by the United States District Court for the District of Colorado in 2005. It was appealed at the Tenth Circuit.

On September 4, 2007, Judge Robert H. Henry of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the CTEA claim, as foreclosed by Eldred, and the district court's holding that § 514 of the URAA does not exceed the limitations inherent in the Copyright Clause.

However the Appeals Court did find "Based on the Eldred Court’s analysis, we examine the bedrock principle of copyright law that works in the public domain remain there and conclude that § 514 alters the traditional contours of copyright protection by deviating from this principle."[9] and concluded "since § 514 has altered the traditional contours of copyright protection in a manner that implicates plaintiffs’ right to free expression, it must be subject to First Amendment review."[10] and remanded the case to the district court.

Golan v. Holder[edit]

The case was then reconsidered as Golan v. Holder. In a holding published on April 3, 2009, Judge Babcock reversed his earlier finding that the First Amendment was not applicable to resurrecting foreign copyright claims. Judge Babcock found that aspects of the 1994 Uruguay Round Agreements Act, which brought some works whose copyright had lapsed back under copyright, violated First Amendment rights of so-called reliance parties,[11] i.e., parties who had been using a work formerly in the public domain before the URAA became effective, relying on the work being in the public domain, and who would now no longer be able to do so.[12] He wrote,

In the United States, that body of law includes the bedrock principle that works in the public domain remain in the public domain. Removing works from the public domain violated Plaintiffs’ vested First Amendment interests. [...] Accordingly—to the extent Section 514 suppresses the right of reliance parties to use works they exploited while the works were in the public domain—Section 514 is substantially broader than necessary to achieve the Government’s interest.[13]

He also indicated a possible solution by suggesting that the protection of reliance parties be made not limited in time. However, further appeals by copyright owners are expected.[14]

On June 21, 2010, the Tenth Circuit reversed the judgment of the district court and remanded with instructions to grant summary judgment in favor of the government, thus upholding the constitutionality of the URAA copyright restoration.[15] Golan filed for certiorari in the Supreme Court of the United States asking for the Court to hear the case.[16] On March 7, 2011, the Court granted the certiorari.[17] Oral argument was held October 5, 2011.[18]

On June 12, 2011, the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP, Petrucci Music Library) announced that they will submit an amicus curiae brief in the case; a group of Harvard Law School students, supervised by Professor Charles Nesson, will be representing IMSLP.[19] Other parties that filed amicus curiae briefs include:[20]

Decision[edit]

On January 18, 2012, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision 6-2. The majority opinion was written by Justice Ginsburg and joined by Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, and Sotomayor. "The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (Berne), which took effect in 1886, is the principal accord governing international copyright relations."[22] The dissent was written by Justice Breyer and joined by Alito. Kagan recused.[23][24]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Golan v. Holder, 10-545, US Supreme Court, Term OY-2011, January 18, 2012. The full title of the case was Lawrence Golan, Richard Kapp, S.A. Publishing Co., Ind., d/b/a/ ESS.A.Y. Recordings, Symphony of the Canyons, Ron Hall d/b/a/ Festival Films, and John McDonough, d/b/a/ Timeless Video Alternatives International v. Alberto Gonzales, in his official capacity as Attorney General of the United States, and Marybeth Peters, Register of Copyrights, Copyright Office of the United States. The case was originally Golan v. Ashcroft, because John Ashcroft was the Attorney General at the time it was originally filed, and was recaptioned Golan v. Gonzalez when Gonzalez assumed the office. The case's title later became Golan v. Holder when it was reconsidered, to reflect that the office was occupied by Eric Holder.
  2. ^ Golan v. Ashcroft Complaint 2001-9-29. Accessed 2012-7-17.
  3. ^ a b Denniston, Lyle, Argument preview: Copyright and the public domain, Bloomberg Law, SCOTUSblog, 2011-10-04.
  4. ^ Liptak, Adam (18 January 2012). "Public Domain Works Can Be Copyrighted Anew, Supreme Court Rules". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 August 2012. 
  5. ^ Totenberg, Nina, High Court Sides With Man Abandoned By Attorneys, 'Separate Decision Upholds Copyright Law', NPR, 2012-1-18.
  6. ^ Golan v. Ashcroft, 310 F. Supp. 2d 1215 (D. Colo. 2004).
  7. ^ Golan v. Gonzales, No. 01-B-1854, 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6800 (D. Colo April 20, 2005).
  8. ^ "Revoking the Public Domain?". Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. December 3, 2004. Retrieved 14 April 2011. 
  9. ^ Golan v. Gonzales, No. 05-CV-1259, page 17 (10th Cir. September 4, 2004).
  10. ^ Golan v. Gonzales, No. 05-CV-1259, at page 38 (10th Cir. September 4, 2004).
  11. ^ U.S. Copyright Office: Definition of "reliance party". URL last accessed January 5, 2010.
  12. ^ Ochoa, T.: Ochoa on Golan v. Holder and Copyright Restoration, April 6, 2009. URL last accessed January 5, 2010.
  13. ^ Babcock, Lewis T: Memorandum Opinion and Order, Civil Case No. 01-cv-01854-LTB, United States District Court for the District of Colorado, April 3, 2009. URL last accessed January 5, 2010.
  14. ^ Nate Anderson, "Court: Congress can't put public domain back into copyright", Ars Technica, April 6, 2009. Accessed April 6, 2009.
  15. ^ Stanford Center for Internet and Society: Golan v. Gonzales
  16. ^ Falzone, Anthony (February 20, 2011). "(Updated) Golan v. Holder Heads To Supreme Court". The Center for Internet and Technology. Stanford University. Retrieved February 20, 2011. 
  17. ^ Falzone, Anthony (March 7, 2011). "Supreme Court grants cert. in Golan v. Holder". The Center for Internet and Technology. Stanford University. Retrieved March 7, 2011. 
  18. ^ "Golan v. Holder (10-545)". Legal Information Institute. Cornell University Law School. Retrieved September 23, 2011. 
  19. ^ "Golan v. Holder: Should Shostakovich be Public Domain?" by Feldmahler, IMSLP journal, June 12, 2011. Accessed June 15, 2011
  20. ^ "Docket 10-545: Proceedings and Orders". Supreme Court of the United States. Retrieved September 30, 2011. 
  21. ^ https://www.eff.org/press/archives/2011/06/21
  22. ^ Ginsburg, Ruth. "Associate Justice". Majority Opinion. Supreme Court of United States. Retrieved 2012-01-22. 
  23. ^ Gagnier, Christina (18 January 2012). "SCOTUS Adds More Fuel to the Copyright Debate With Golan V. Holder". Huffington Post. Retrieved 19 January 2012. 
  24. ^ SCOTUS blog post

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]