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Education Music The Courts United States Your Rights Online Science

Supreme Court Takes Up Scholars' Rights 190

schwit1 writes with this quote from the Chronicle of Higher Education: "For 10 years, Lawrence Golan has been quietly waging a legal campaign to overturn a statute which makes it impossibly expensive for smaller orchestras to play certain pieces of music. Now the case is heading to the US Supreme Court. The high-stakes copyright showdown affects far more than sheet music. The outcome will touch a broad swath of academe for years to come, dictating what materials scholars can use in books and courses without jumping through legal hoops. The law Mr. Golan is trying to overturn has also hobbled libraries' efforts to digitize and share books, films, and music. The conductor's fight centers on the concept of the public domain, which scholars depend on for teaching and research. When a work enters the public domain, anyone can quote from it, copy it, share it, or republish it without seeking permission or paying royalties. The dispute that led to Golan v. Holder dates to 1994, when Congress passed a law that moved vast amounts of material from the public domain back behind the firewall of copyright protection. The Supreme Court is expected to decide the case during the term that begins in October."
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Supreme Court Takes Up Scholars' Rights

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @02:27AM (#36371910)

    You have the right to be smeared by sleazy corporations and their Republican pawns.

    You have the right to an attorney to defend yourself from Republican corruption, but it will be at your expense.

    You have the right to remain silent.

    Anything you say will be inaccurately portrayed by right wing morons, and will be used against you in a way that doesn't even make sense.

  • Re:US-centric (Score:3, Insightful)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @02:44AM (#36371984) Journal
    Yeah, I've always wondered why, in a site that exists mainly from user contributions, why those non-USians don't contribute more. Then we could get news from all around the world. It would be great. Why don't you do it?
  • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @03:05AM (#36372046) Journal
    This is the problem when you make stereotypical judgements of the supreme court based on the few cases you care to pay attention to. Last time there was a major copyright case, it was 7-2 favoring the 'corporatists' (and not even all corporations favor copyright; only the ones who benefit from copyright favor it). Of the two who opposed it, one was appointed by a democrat, and one by a republican.

    Also, what is your weird idea about terrorists legal cancer? For example, Rasul vs Bush [] was a huge defense of the rights of says that all prisoners, even enemy combatants, have the right to Habeas Corpus, which is huge, and was of course opposed by the Bush administration. The supreme court takes more into consideration than 'left' or 'right,' you should look into it some time.
  • by Hazel Bergeron ( 2015538 ) on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @03:09AM (#36372064) Journal

    Google, by trying to make money from old works through discriminatory deals with publishers and libraries, has attempted to monetise the public-domain and the nearly-public-domain on a massive scale. No longer is the path to public domain a path to moving ideas and their expression into the people's hands - it's now something that a sufficiently large corporation will try to wrestle control of for itself. The law thus has good reason to view old works as subject to all the usual competition and ownership rules as new works.

    The people are as much to blame for their passivity, of course. We, through non-profits and libraries, should have been preparing to distribute old work on a massive scale - to make it clear that it belongs to the people and it is in our interests to hold onto it for our enjoyment. Instead, we lazily allow business to deal with it. We suffer the expected consequences.

  • by NeutronCowboy ( 896098 ) on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @03:25AM (#36372154)

    Lessig answered in abstract terms because it is very, very difficult to quantify the cost of removing something from the public domain. It's easy to see the benefit: just count the revenue generated by the IP for the rights holder. I suspect that Golan is going to run into the problem of "I see that it is too expensive for you to play Prokovief. Why is that more important than Rightholder A making money off of his sheet music?" Damage might be there, but it is always put into the context of the benefit derived from the existence of the copyright. And he's going to lose that battle every time: because music in general is a big market, and therefore there is no need to play a particular piece - but an individual rightsholder derives direct benefits from the royalties of a particular piece that he/she can't derive from any other piece.

    Sometimes, in the rush to quantify everything, we forget that part of what makes us a civilization is the culture that we have in common. What is the value of that? I don't know. What price is a life? I don't know either. Sometimes, abstract considerations are necessary to work around the morass that is the monetary valuation of a moral position.

  • by Sique ( 173459 ) on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @05:22AM (#36372554) Homepage

    Had Google acted philanthropically, they couldn't have shown damage from being no longer allowed to do so. Copyright is about business, and to argue about copyright, you have to show a business case.

  • by metacell ( 523607 ) on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @06:52AM (#36372860)

    "I see that it is too expensive for you to play Prokovief. Why is that more important than Rightholder A making money off of his sheet music?"

    You're probably right that the judges will reason that way, but the proper answer to the above is:

    "Granting Rightsholder A the right to make money from his sheet music does not produce any net benefits; it merely transfers money from the buyer to the rightsholder. The transfers need to stimulate production of new works to have a net benefit, and extending copyright on existing works doesn't qualify. Extending copyright on those works does, however, result in a net loss, since they have a hemming effect on the performance of said works, which means fewer people will be able to enjoy and benefit from them."

  • by Internetuser1248 ( 1787630 ) on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @08:33AM (#36373398)
    'I think the puppet on the right shares my beliefs.' 'I think the puppet on the left is more to my liking.'

    Like it has anything to do with republicans vs democrats. This is why your country is in such a shambles, the pretense that there is a left and right wing of in US politics and the incessant arguing over who is ruining the country. THEY BOTH ARE. This current debate is about media corporations, of course they will give money to whoever can help them make more money. Of course they don't care what label their puppets campaign under. By arguing about this you are causing the problem. STOP IT.
  • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @08:45AM (#36373504) Journal

    he's a tenured professor with a strictly theoretical knowledge of the law, and (demonstrably) very little understanding of how courts and judges actually operate

    In other words, Lessig argued based on the law. The Supreme Court ignored all that and ruled the way that would please their cronies. There's no way to explain the behavior of the Supreme Court in the past decade that doesn't involve corruption.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"