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Government The Courts

Court Takes Away Some of the Public Domain 431

Posted by kdawson
from the congress-shall-make-no-law dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In yet another bad ruling concerning copyright, a federal appeals court has overturned a lower court ruling, and said that it's okay for Congress retroactively to remove works from the public domain, even if publishers are already making use of those public-domain works. The lower court had said this was a First Amendment violation, but the appeals court said that if Congress felt taking away from the public domain was in its best interests, then there was no First Amendment violation at all. The ruling effectively says that Congress can violate the First Amendment, so long as it feels it has heard from enough people (in this case, RIAA and MPAA execs) to convince it that it needs to do what it has done." TechDirt notes that the case will almost certainly be appealed.
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Court Takes Away Some of the Public Domain

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  • by networkBoy (774728) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @12:38PM (#32655522) Homepage Journal

    correct.
    They are more closely related to kimono dragons and pit vipers. I hereby move that we strip serpent people of their rights as citizens of the US.

    In an aside, if there is a work in the PD and I am using it right now, then congress removes it from the public domain, how does that shake out?
    Is it like when a GPL project goes closed source, where I can continue with the fork I've made, or is it as I expect (all fscked up) and I immediately am infringing and can be sued?
    -nB

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @12:42PM (#32655588)

    This is absolutely the correct conclusion to the Golan case. As someone who wrote a 20 page term paper on this case for an International Intellectual Property class in law school, I understand the OP's concern, but this decision will have far narrower application than imagined. It is absolutely ESSENTIAL if we are going to meet our obligations under TRIPs in order to avoid WTO sanctions, and it will apply only to a small subset of authors who utilized a small subset of works that fell into the public domain because the US /wasn't/ following its treaty obligations for a number of years.

    Important decision this is, but the sky ain't falling yet.

  • by SunSpot505 (1356127) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @12:57PM (#32655844)
    Disney has already been doing this much more effectively for years. You would think that Mickey Mouse would be public domain, but every time he gets close to the public, there is a nice bill through congress that extends the expiration date. You can look at Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] for more on the "Mickey Mouse Protection Act", but it's hardly a surprise that corporations are attempting to circumvent limitations to IP ownership.

    What worries me the most is that, if Mickey can get his rat ass protected, what will Congress see fit to remove from the Public Domain, and just how much of a campaign donation does it take to do it?
  • by unity100 (970058) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @01:03PM (#32655946) Homepage Journal
    that patents and copyrights are harmful and detrimental ? and they are going towards intellectual feudalism ?
  • by i.am.delf (1665555) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @02:12PM (#32656842)
    This is less of a problem of movies and music, but if this ruling is allowed to stand a very large amount of books will cease to be public domain. One example of a work under essentially perpetual copyright in the UK is the King James version of the Bible. I'm sure there are plenty of other examples which could be dredged up as well.
  • by TheABomb (180342) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @02:57PM (#32657412)

    No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

    I know the whole "for limited times" provision was held by the Supreme Court to mean "for unlimited time", but c'mon? What part of "No" don't they understand? For that matter, where is the "just compensation" without which "nor shall private property be taken for public use" according to the Fifth Amendment?

  • by careysub (976506) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @03:32PM (#32657854)

    So, groups dedicated to gaining power to dictate the behavior of others (political power) are more moral than groups dedicated to acquiring greater wealth (economic power)?

    There is no such dichotomy.

    There are groups dedicated to "gaining political power" (loaded phrasing for "influencing public policy", they aren't political parties and thus never have political power directly) and then there are corporations that already have power (through their wealth) and wish to increase that power, AND IN ADDITION are ALSO dedicated to "gaining political power" (that is, influencing public policy).

    It is a very tilted playing field, with corporations already having tremendous advantages over everyone else, and always seeking to increase those advantages.

    Pretending that there is any sort of equivalence between public non-profits, and international corporations in influence, or morality, or anything else is as crazy as asserting that negotiations between an individual employee and an international corporation over terms of employment is one between equals.*

    *Many right wingers will fail to see the preposterousness of this latter example; for them there is no hope of enlightenment.

  • by tombeard (126886) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @04:55PM (#32658954)

    I believe during WW2 the government did confiscate patents.
    Hank Reardens miracle metal story in Atlas Shrugged is based on the confiscation of the aluminum patent.

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