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Government The Courts

Court Takes Away Some of the Public Domain 431

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 morphotomy ( 1655417 ) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @01:41PM (#32655568)
    No, copyright at its core is a system to ensure those who spent months writing books didnt get fucked just cause the guy next door has a printing press and could, hypothetically make and sell as many copies as possible. Thats not to say the system hasnt been corrupted in such a way that allows it to be abused in the way you described.
  • by PotatoFarmer ( 1250696 ) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @01:58PM (#32655876)
    I guess that would depend on what you mean by "using it". The ruling itself appears to be mostly concerned with people who have produced derivative works (e.g. performances, recordings, etc.) of items that are in the public domain in the US but were originally produced and are still under copyright in their country of origin. As far as what will happen, I'll let this excerpt from ruling speak for itself:

    "a reliance party may continue to exploit that derivative work for the duration of the restored copyright if the reliance party pays to the owner of the restored copyright reasonable compensation . . . ." If the parties are unable to agree on reasonable compensation, a federal court will determine the amount of compensation

  • by ghrucla ( 1392521 ) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @01:59PM (#32655894)

    There are two legal issues here:
    1) This is a straightforward application of the Supreme Court precedent in Eldred v Ashcroft. Lower courts are bound by SCOTUS precedent and so this is an easy call in terms of case law even if you think (as I do) that it's bad policy and Eldred was wrongly decided.
    2) It's not a First Amendment issue but an Article I, Section 8 issue and in particular if you read the clause "to promote the progress of science and useful arts" as meaning that Congress can only grant IP rights when such rights are likely to incentivize creativity (which would exclude retroactive grants).

  • by spun ( 1352 ) <> on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @02:01PM (#32655908) Journal

    Dragons wearing kimonos? [] Or did you mean Komodo Dragons? []

  • by Thundersnatch ( 671481 ) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @02:02PM (#32655924) Journal

    Yes they are, in the way Greenpeace, the American Red Cross, or the FSF are "people". Corporations are simply groups of people acting together. Why should one group of people be allowed to pool their resources and influence, but not others?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @02:08PM (#32656022)

    The part of Section 514 at issue here applies only to (1) works that were based on public domain works which (2) fell into the the public domain because the US was not complying with its Berne Convention obligations. Section 514 restores copyright to the works /that should have been copyrighted to begin with/. It does this because international obligations require it (not because Congress wanted to). It applies only retrospectively, and CANNOT be used to protect new works in any new way.

    This means that (1) the US is only meeting treaty obligations, providing the same level of protection as that afforded in other WTO nations, and (2) the application is limited to a finite number of works and affected authors.

  • They did argue that (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @02:24PM (#32656258)

    They did argue that the first time around [], 3 years ago. It was promptly shot down due the to precedent set by the Eldred case, as was widely expected.

    Posting anonymously as I have moderated in this thread. However, as I am only providing information and not arguing a point, I don't think I am abusing the spirit of that rule.

  • by cpt kangarooski ( 3773 ) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @02:38PM (#32656440) Homepage

    No, copyright at its core is a system to ensure those who spent months writing books didnt get fucked just cause the guy next door has a printing press and could, hypothetically make and sell as many copies as possible.

    No, copyright at its core is a system to increase the public benefit: The public benefits when works are created and published that otherwise would not have been, and the public benefits when works are unprotected, so that they can be used most productively (e.g. enjoyed, copied and distributed most widely, used as the basis for derivatives, etc.).

    In order to try to increase the first type of benefit, we temporarily reduce the second kind, betting that when the reduction expires, the net public benefit will be greater than if we hadn't meddled. Assuming that this is so (it isn't necessarily so), you then try to determine precisely how little, and how short-lived of a reduction provides the greatest incentive to create and publish, so as to maximize the net public benefit.

    But the system doesn't really care whether or not some author or another gets fucked, as you put it. We don't want to lose sight of the overall public benefit and focus on incentives to the exclusion of all else. Even with all of the maximalists running rampant, there are still plenty of ways in which we don't protect an author, because it would be contrary to the public interest to do so.

  • by tombeard ( 126886 ) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @06:16PM (#32659162)

    No. Under a libertarian system the company polluting would be held responsible for all of their damages. It they were truly polluting they would be sued out of business pretty quick. And the owners of that business would all be criminally liable as well, and could face criminal charges of say manslaughter if their pollution killed someone. Sounds like a lot more accountability then the current system provides. I haven't heard of anyone charged with the deaths of the gulf oil rig workers.

When a fellow says, "It ain't the money but the principle of the thing," it's the money. -- Kim Hubbard