More on the Supreme Court’s decision against Eldred, Lessig, et al.
DigitalConsumer.org Statement on Eldred Case:
- Digitalconsumer.org today issued the following statement regarding the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Eldred case:
Today’s Eldred ruling is bad for consumers, bad for innovation and ultimately bad for America. It is another in a series of blows to consumer rights to copyrighted works.
This large setback for consumers should be a call to action: those who care about innovation and the public’s access to creative works must re-focus their attention on Congress. Public pressure should now turn to having our elected officials legislate a more equitable balance between copyright holders and consumers since the courts have said clearly that they will not intervene in this debate.
This ruling underscores the importance of protecting consumer fair-use rights. With the court’s decision to affirm the monopoly privileges of content holders, the only remaining counter-balance is a set of consumer fair-use rights. Unfortunately, those rights have been under siege in Congress and in the marketplace. This ruling today reinforces the need for Congress to bolster the fair-use rights of citizens.
Blogcritic Dan Gillmor in SiliconValley.com:
- Swipe a CD from a record store and you’ll get arrested. But when Congress authorizes the entertainment industry to steal from you — well, that’s the American way.
We learned as much on Wednesday when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Congress can repeatedly extend copyright terms, as it did most recently in 1998 when it added 20 years to the terms for new and existing works.
The law, a brazen heist, was called the Copyright Term Extension Act. It was better known as the Sonny Bono act, so named after its chief sponsor even though Disney and other giant media corporations were the money and muscle behind it.
Who got robbed? You did. I did.
Who won? Endlessly greedy media barons will now collect billions from works that should have long since entered the public domain.
Like public lands and the oceans, the public domain is controlled by no one — a situation that infuriates people who believe that nothing can have value unless some person or corporation owns it. The public domain is the pool of knowledge from which new art and scholarship have arisen over the centuries.
The Constitution talks about granting rights to creators of ”science and useful arts” but only for limited periods. After that, the works can be used freely by anyone.
Walt Disney understood the value of the public domain, and used it precisely as other great artists had done. He updated an out-of-copyright character to create Mickey Mouse, for example, and launched an empire.
The company he founded later used French writer Victor Hugo’s work, which was also no longer owned by anyone, to create a cartoon based on the Hunchback of Notre Dame saga. The Disney animators had every right to build new works on old ones — and the public also got the benefit. Try the same thing with Mickey Mouse and you’ll be hauled into court faster than you can say ”Goofy.”
The court’s 7-2 ruling betrayed some judicial discomfort, observing that Congress has the power to do ”arguably unwise” things. Get ready for more unwise acts, in that case.
Will our lawmakers now race to collect campaign bribes from those who’d extend patent terms, too? Do you want to pay extortionate prices for live-saving drugs indefinitely? The pharmaceutical industry, which certainly has the money to spend, would undoubtedly love to make it happen.
Lawrence Lessig, the Stanford Law professor who argued the case before the court in October, was understandably dishearted by the outcome. But when he said in his weblog that he blamed himself for the court’s decision, he was wrong. No one could have convinced this court, not in these times….
Donna Wentworth’s Copyfight blog has an exhaustive list of reactions and links – the woman is relentless.