[Air-l] The U.S. Supreme Court endorses bad copyright law

Logie john at logie.net
Wed Jan 15 08:41:30 PST 2003

Colleagues -

This just popped over the wire . . .

> Supremes Uphold Longer Copyrights 
>   Associated Press  Page 1 of 1
> 07:35 AM Jan. 15, 2003 PT
>  WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld longstanding 
> copyrights designed to protect the profits of songs, books and cartoon 
> characters, a huge victory for Disney and other companies.
> The 7-2 ruling, while not unexpected, was a blow to Internet 
> publishers and others who wanted to make old books available online 
> and use the likenesses of a Mickey Mouse cartoon and other old 
> creations without paying high royalties.

The remainder of the story can be found at


This is lousy news. Eric Eldred, who sued the U.S. Attorney General, 
posts public domain texts to the 'Net and argued (rightly, I think) 
that the 1998 extension of U.S. copyrights, applied retroactively to 
existing works as well as to new works, was an unreasonable and 
unconstitutional expansion of copyright. Background on the case can be 
found at:


The U.S. Supreme Court clearly is deferring to the U.S. Congress on 
this one -- depressing given the degree to which media giants are 
buying up representatives.

The Internet is only as strong as its content. This ruling effectively 
halts the entry of texts from the 1920s-forward into the public domain. 
The case suggests that despite the ever-increasing speed and reach of 
the 'Net, U.S. media law will remain stubbornly sluggish and 
restrictive. I encourage you all to monitor your local representatives' 
votes and actions with respect to intellectual property policy, and to 
take steps which will ensure maximal public access (while, of course, 
fairly compensating creators).


John Logie
Department of Rhetoric
University of Minnesota

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