Reaction Round-Up: Golan v. Holder

Reaction Round-Up: Golan v. Holder

In the midst of the SOPA/PIPA protests of yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court released a 69-page opinion, deciding Golan v. Holder [PDF] in favor of the government.  These are only some of the stories, analyses and reactions out there in the press and blogosphere. Some content excerpted following links.

Press and Tech Press

Ars Technica – Supreme Court rules Congress can re-copyright public domain works

New York Times – Public Domain Works Can Be Copyrighted Anew, Supreme Court Rules

TechDirt – Supreme Court Chooses SOPA/PIPA Protest Day To Give A Giant Middle Finger To The Public Domain

Thomson Reuters – Amid SOPA debate, SCOTUS gives Congress broad copyright power

Wired’s Threat Level – Supreme Court Says Congress May Re-Copyright Public Domain Works

Library & Educational Press/Blogs

Chronicle of Higher Ed – Supreme Court Upholds Law That Pulled Foreign Works Back Under Copyright

But the ruling could open the door for Congress to craft further changes in copyright law that scholars might consider even more restrictive, said Kenneth D. Crews, director of the copyright-advisory office at the Columbia University Libraries.
“It is a grant of sweeping authority to Congress to shape copyright law in almost any way that it chooses,” he said of the decision. “This should raise a red flag to be watchful about other developments in congress like SOPA,” he added, referring to the Stop Online Piracy Act (HR 3261).

Kevin Smith at Duke University – Losing our focus

Last night my colleague Will Cross and I were teaching a class session on copyright for library students.  Will discussed (among other things) two aspects or principles of copyright decision making that seem relevant to today’s decision.  First was the idea that the federal courts tend to show great deference to Congress in the area of copyright.  That deference is very evident in today’s majority opinion: “This Court has no warrant to reject Congress’ rational judgment that exemplary adherence to Berne would serve the objectives of the Copyright Clause.”
The other principle Will discussed was the incentive purpose that is given as the reason, in the Constitution, for allowing Congress to enact intellectual property laws.  This purpose is pretty clearly rejected by the majority, when Justice Ginsberg writes that “Nothing in the text or history of the Copyright Clause, moreover, confines the ‘Progress of Science’ exclusively to ‘incentives for creation.’” …

Library Journal – Supreme Court Upholds Law Restoring Copyright to Some Public-Domain Works

Law Blogs

SCOTUSblog had the opinion and probably the first analysis of it – Opinion Recap: The Public Domain Shrinks

Orin Kerr at The Volokh Conspiracy – Supreme Court Considers Case on “Unprecedented” Assertion of Congressional Power

Timothy Sandefur at Freespace – The smug analogy falls flat (in reaction to Kerr’s post)

Wendy Seltzer – Copyright in Congress, Court, and Public

Golan reminds us too that we can’t count on the courts to help us where Congress gets copyright wrong. The majority leaves a great deal to Congressional discretion, as it did in Eldred (striking down a challenge to copyright term extension): “the Copyright Clause does not demand that each copyright provision, examined discretely, operate to induce new works.” In a chilling phrase, the Golan majority quotes the district court’s finding of a “settled rule that private censorship via copyright enforcement does not implicate First Amendment concerns.”

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