Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Kahle v Gonzales: Court upholds copyright in orphan works

Via Michael Geist:

"A U.S. appeals court has rejected a bid by Internet activists to roll back federal laws that extended copyright protection over orphan works, or books and other media that are no longer in print. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed a lower court decision to dismiss Kahle v. Gonzales, which argued that legal changes made in the 1990s had vastly extended copyright protections at the expense of free speech rights."

The decision is available at http://www.ninthcircuitopinions.com/2007/01/22/kahle-v-gonzales

Larry Lessig argued the case before the court in November and there are further details on the case at the Stanford website.

"In this case, two archives ask the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to hold that statutes that extended copyright terms unconditionally — the Copyright Renewal Act and the Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA)— are unconstitutional under the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment, and that the Copyright Renewal Act and CTEA together create an “effectively perpetual” term with respect to works first published after January 1, 1964 and before January 1, 1978, in violation of the Constitution’s Limited Times and Promote...Progress Clauses. The Complaint asks the Court for a declaratory judgment that copyright restrictions on orphaned works — works whose copyright has not expired but which are no longer available — violate the constitution."

Well the court rejected the argument. I guess there will be plenty of commentary from the usual suspects in due course.

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