|Eldred v. Ashcroft|
Supreme Court of the United States
|Argued October 9, 2002|
Decided January 15, 2003
|20-year retroactive extension of existing copyright terms did not violate the Copyright Clause or the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Article I Section 8, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution, known as the Copyright Clause, the Copyright and Patent Clause (or Patent The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is part of the United States Bill of Rights that expressly prohibits the United States Congress The Constitution of the United States of America is the supreme Law of the United States. D. C. Circuit's decision affirmed.|
|Chief Justice: William Rehnquist|
Associate Justices: John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O'Connor, Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, David Souter, Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer
|Majority by: Ginsburg (majority opinion, syllabus)|
Joined by: Rehnquist, O'Connor, Scalia, Kennedy, Souter, Thomas
Dissent by: Stevens (dissenting opinion)
Dissent by: Breyer (dissenting opinion)
|Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998; U.S. Constitution Art. I, § 8, cl. 8; U.S. Constitution amend. I|
Eldred v. William Hubbs Rehnquist (October 1 1924 – September 3 2005 was an American lawyer, jurist, and a political figure who served as an Associate Justice John Paul Stevens (born April 20, 1920) is currently the most senior Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Sandra Day O'Connor (born March 26, 1930) is an American Jurist. (born March 11, 1936) is an American Jurist and the second most senior Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Anthony McLeod Kennedy (born July 23, 1936) has been an Associate Justice of the U For the Australian artist see David Henry Souter. David Hackett Souter (ˈsutɚ born September 17, 1939) has been an Clarence Thomas (born June 23, 1948) is an American Jurist. He has been serving as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United Ruth Joan Bader Ginsburg (born March 15 1933 Brooklyn New York) is an Associate Justice on the U Stephen Gerald Breyer (born August 15 1938 is an American Attorney and Jurist. The Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA of 1998 &ndash alternatively known as the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, Sonny Bono Act, or Pejoratively Article I Section 8, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution, known as the Copyright Clause, the Copyright and Patent Clause (or Patent The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is part of the United States Bill of Rights that expressly prohibits the United States Congress Ashcroft, 537 U.S. 186 (2003) challenged the constitutionality of the 1998 Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA). Year 2003 ( MMIII) was a Common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. United States Constitutional Law is the body of law governing the interpretation and implementation of the United States Constitution. Year 1998 ( MCMXCVIII) was a Common year starting on Thursday (link will display full 1998 Gregorian calendar) The Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA of 1998 &ndash alternatively known as the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, Sonny Bono Act, or Pejoratively Oral argument was heard on October 9, 2002, and on January 15, 2003, the court held the CTEA constitutional by a 7-2 decision. Events 768 - Carloman I and Charlemagne are crowned Kings of The Franks. See also 2002 (disambiguation Year 2002 ( MMII) was a Common year starting on Tuesday of the Gregorian calendar. Events 588 BC - Nebuchadrezzar II of Babylon lays siege to Jerusalem under Zedekiah 's reign Year 2003 ( MMIII) was a Common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar.
The Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act (or CTEA) extended existing copyright terms by an additional 20 years from the terms set by the Copyright Act of 1976. The Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA of 1998 &ndash alternatively known as the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, Sonny Bono Act, or Pejoratively History and purpose Before the 1976 Act the last major revision to statutory copyright law in the United States occurred in 1909 The law affected both new and existing works (making it both a prospective extension as well as a retroactive one). Specifically, for works published before January 1, 1978 and still in copyright on October 27, 1998, the term was extended to 95 years. New Year See also New Year The Ancient Romans began their consular year on January 1st since 153 BC Year 1978 ( MCMLXXVIII) was a Common year starting on Sunday (link displays the 1978 Gregorian calendar) Events 312 - Constantine the Great is said to have received his famous Vision of the Cross. Year 1998 ( MCMXCVIII) was a Common year starting on Thursday (link will display full 1998 Gregorian calendar) For works authored by individuals on or after January 1, 1978 (including new works), the copyright term was extended to equal the life of the author plus 70 years. New Year See also New Year The Ancient Romans began their consular year on January 1st since 153 BC Year 1978 ( MCMLXXVIII) was a Common year starting on Sunday (link displays the 1978 Gregorian calendar) For works authored by joint authors, the copyright term was extended to the life of the last surviving author plus 70 years. In the case of works-for-hire, anonymous or pseudonymous works, the term was set at 95 years from the date of first publication, or 120 years from creation. A work made for hire (sometimes abbreviated as work for hire and WFH) is an exception to the general rule that the person who actually creates a work is the legally-recognized
The practical result of this was to prevent a number of works from entering the public domain in 1998 and following years, as would have occurred under the Copyright Law of 1976. The public domain is a range of abstract materials &ndash commonly referred to as Intellectual property &ndash which are not owned or controlled by anyone Year 1998 ( MCMXCVIII) was a Common year starting on Thursday (link will display full 1998 Gregorian calendar) Materials which the plaintiffs had worked with and were ready to republish were now unavailable due to copyright restrictions.
The lead petitioner, Eric Eldred, is an Internet publisher. Eric Eldred, born 1943 is an American Literacy advocate and the proprietor of the unincorporated Eldritch Press, a website which republished the works of others which The Internet is a global system of interconnected Computer networks Eldred was joined by a group of commercial and non-commercial interests who relied on the public domain for their work. These included Dover Publications, a commercial publisher of paperback books; Luck's Music Library, Inc. Dover Publications is an American book Publisher founded in 1941 by Hayward Cirker and his wife Blanche Paperback, softback, or softcover describe and refer to a Book by the nature of its binding. , and Edwin F. Kalmus & Co. , Inc. , publishers of orchestral sheet music; and a large number of amici including (but not limited to) the Free Software Foundation, the American Association of Law Libraries, and the College Art Association. Sheet music is a hand-written or printed form of Musical notation; like its analogs -- books pamphlets etc Amicus curiae or amicus curiæ (plural amici curiae) is a Legal Latin phrase literally translated as "friend of the court" The Free Software Foundation ( FSF) is a Non-profit corporation founded by Richard Stallman on 4 October 1985 to support the Free software movement The American Association of Law Libraries "is a nonprofit educational organization with over 5000 members nationwide The College Art Association of America (usually referred to as simply CAA) is the principal Professional association in the United States for scholars of
Supporting the law were the U.S. government, represented by the Attorney General in an ex officio capacity (originally Janet Reno, later replaced by John Ashcroft), along with a set of amici including (but not limited to) the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America, ASCAP and Broadcast Music Incorporated. The federal government of the United States is the central United States Governmental body established by the United States Constitution. The United States Attorney General is the head of the United States Department of Justice (see) concerned with legal affairs and is the chief law enforcement C D E Janet Reno (born July 21, 1938) was the Attorney General of the United States ( 1993 &ndash 2001) John David Ashcroft (born May 9 1942) is an American Politician who was the 79th United States Attorney General. Amicus curiae or amicus curiæ (plural amici curiae) is a Legal Latin phrase literally translated as "friend of the court" The American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers ( ASCAP) is a non-profit Performance rights organization that protects its Broadcast Music Incorporated ( BMI) is a US Performing rights organization.
The original complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on January 11, 1999. Events 1055 - Theodora is crowned Empress of the Byzantine Empire. Year 1999 ( MCMXCIX) was a Common year starting on Friday (link will display full 1999 Gregorian calendar) The plaintiffs' argument was threefold:
Plaintiffs argued that by reading this formulation so as to allow for any number of retroactive extensions, Congress could in practice guarantee an unlimited period of copyright protection, thus thwarting the intent of the clause. The Constitution of the United States of America is the supreme Law of the United States. Article I Section 8, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution, known as the Copyright Clause, the Copyright and Patent Clause (or Patent
"To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries" (emphasis added)
In response, the government argued that Congress does indeed have the latitude to retroactively extend terms, so long as the individual extensions are also for "limited times," as required by the Constitution. As an argument for this position, they referred to the Copyright Act of 1790, the first Federal copyright legislation, which applied Federal protection to existing works. The Copyright Act of 1790 was the first federal Copyright act to be instituted in the United States, though most of the states had Furthermore, they argued, neither the First Amendment nor the doctrine of public trust is applicable to copyright cases.
On October 28, 1999, Judge June Green issued a brief opinion rejecting all three of the petitioners' arguments. Events 306 - Maxentius is proclaimed Roman Emperor. 312 - Battle of Milvian Bridge: Constantine Year 1999 ( MCMXCIX) was a Common year starting on Friday (link will display full 1999 Gregorian calendar) On the first count, she wrote that Congress had the power to extend terms as it wished, as long as the terms themselves were of limited duration. On the second count, she rejected the notion of First Amendment scrutiny in copyright cases, based on her interpretation of Harper and Row Publishers, Inc., v. Nation Enterprises, an earlier Supreme Court decision. Harper & Row v Nation Enterprises, 471 US 539 ( 1985) was a United States Supreme Court decision that determined that Fair use On the third count, she rejected the notion that public trust doctrine was applicable to copyright law.
The plaintiffs appealed the decision of the district court to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, filing their initial brief on May 22, 2000, and arguing the case on October 5 of the same year in front of a three-judge panel. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, known informally as the D A brief (Latin " brevis " short or factum (Latin for "act" or "deed" is a written legal document used in various legal Arguments were similar to those made in the district court, except for those regarding the public trust doctrine, which were not included in the appeal.
Instead, the plaintiffs extended their argument on the copyright clause to note that the clause requires Congress to "promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts," and argued that retroactive extensions do not directly serve this purpose in the standard quid pro quo previously required by the courts. The United States Congress is the bicameral Legislature of the federal government of the United States of America, consisting of two houses Quid pro quo ( Latin for "something for something") indicates a more-or-less equal exchange or substitution of goods or services
The case was decided on February 16, 2001. Events 1249 - Andrew of Longjumeau is dispatched by Louis IX of France as his ambassador to meet with the Khan of the Mongols Year 2001 ( MMI) was a Common year starting on Monday according to the Gregorian calendar. The appeals court upheld the decision of the district court in a 2-1 opinion. In a forceful dissent, Judge David Sentelle agreed with the plaintiffs that CTEA was indeed unconstitutional based on the "limited Times" requirement. Judge David Bryan Sentelle (born February 12, 1943 in Canton North Carolina) is the Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District Supreme Court precedent, he argued, held that one must be able to discern an "outer limit" to a limited power; in the case of retrospective copyright extensions, Congress could continue to extend copyright terms indefinitely through a set of limited extensions, thus rendering the "limited times" requirement meaningless.
Following this ruling, plaintiffs petitioned for a rehearing en banc (in front of the full panel of nine judges). En banc, in banc, in banco or in bank is a French term used to refer to the hearing of a legal case where all This petition was rejected, 7–2, with Judges Sentelle and David Tatel dissenting. David S Tatel (born March 16, 1942) was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by President
On October 11, 2001, the plaintiffs filed a petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court of the United States. Events 1138 - A massive earthquake struck Aleppo, Syria. 1531 - Huldrych Zwingli is killed Year 2001 ( MMI) was a Common year starting on Monday according to the Gregorian calendar. Certiorari (ˌsɚʃioʊ('rɛri 'rɑri is a legal term in Roman, English, Philippine and American law referring to a type of Writ The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest judicial body in the United States and leads the federal judiciary. On February 19, 2002, the Court granted Certiorari, agreeing to hear the case. Events 197 - Roman Emperor Septimius Severus defeats usurper Clodius Albinus in the Battle of Lugdunum See also 2002 (disambiguation Year 2002 ( MMII) was a Common year starting on Tuesday of the Gregorian calendar.
Oral arguments were presented on October 9, 2002. Events 768 - Carloman I and Charlemagne are crowned Kings of The Franks. See also 2002 (disambiguation Year 2002 ( MMII) was a Common year starting on Tuesday of the Gregorian calendar. Lead counsel for the plaintiff was Lawrence Lessig; the government's case was argued by Solicitor General Theodore Olson. Lawrence Lessig (born June 3 1961) is an American academic and political activist The United States Solicitor General is the individual appointed to argue for the Government of the United States in front of the Supreme Court of the United States Theodore Bevry Olson (born September 11, 1940) was the 42nd United States Solicitor General, serving from June 2001 to July 2004.
Lessig refocused the Plaintiffs' brief to emphasize the Copyright clause restriction, as well as the First Amendment argument from the Appeals case. The decision to emphasize the Copyright clause argument was based on both the minority opinion of Judge Sentelle in the appeals court, and on several recent Supreme Court decisions authored by Chief Justice William Rehnquist: United States v. Lopez and United States v. Morrison. William Hubbs Rehnquist (October 1 1924 – September 3 2005 was an American lawyer, jurist, and a political figure who served as an Associate Justice United States v Lopez, was the first United States Supreme Court case since the Great Depression to set limits to Congress's power under the United States v Morrison, is a United States Supreme Court decision that examined the limits of Congress's power to make laws under the Commerce Clause
In both of those decisions, Rehnquist, along with four of the Court's more conservative justices, held Congressional legislation unconstitutional, because said legislation exceeded the limits of the Constitution's Commerce clause. This profound reversal of precedent, Lessig argued, could not be limited to only one of the enumerated powers. If the court felt that it had the power to review legislation under the Commerce clause, Lessig argued, then the Copyright clause deserved similar treatment, or at very least a "principled reason" must be stated for according such treatment to only one of the enumerated powers.
On January 15, 2003, the Court held the CTEA constitutional by a 7–2 decision. Events 588 BC - Nebuchadrezzar II of Babylon lays siege to Jerusalem under Zedekiah 's reign Year 2003 ( MMIII) was a Common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. The majority opinion, written by Justice Ginsburg, relied heavily on the Copyright Acts of 1790, 1831, 1909, and 1976 as precedent for retroactive extensions. Ruth Joan Bader Ginsburg (born March 15 1933 Brooklyn New York) is an Associate Justice on the U The Copyright Act of 1790 was the first federal Copyright act to be instituted in the United States, though most of the states had History and purpose Before the 1976 Act the last major revision to statutory copyright law in the United States occurred in 1909 One of the arguments supporting the act was the life expectancy has significantly increased among the human population since the 1700s, and therefore copyright law needed extending as well. However, the major argument for the act that carried over into the case was that the Constitution specified that Congress only needed to set time limits for copyrights; the length of which was left to their discretion. Thus, as long as the limit is not "forever," any limit set by Congress can be deemed constitutional.
A key factor in the CTEA’s passage was a 1993 European Union (EU) directive instructing EU members to establish a baseline copyright term of life plus 70 years and to deny this longer term to the works of any non-EU country whose laws did not secure the same extended term. By extending the baseline United States copyright term, Congress sought to ensure that American authors would receive the same copyright protection in Europe as their European counterparts. 
The Supreme Court declined to address Lessig's contention that Lopez and Morrison offered precedent for enforcing the Copyright clause, and instead reiterated the lower court's reasoning that a retroactive term extension can satisfy the "limited times" provision in the copyright clause, as long as the extension itself is limited instead of perpetual. Furthermore, the Court refused to apply the proportionality standards of the Fourteenth Amendment or the free-speech standards in the First Amendment to limit Congress's ability to confer copyrights for limited terms. The Fourteenth Amendment ( Amendment XIV) to the United States Constitution is one of the post- Civil War Reconstruction Amendments, first
Justice Breyer dissented, arguing that the CTEA amounted to a grant of perpetual copyright that undermined public interests. Stephen Gerald Breyer (born August 15 1938 is an American Attorney and Jurist. While the constitution grants Congress power to extend copyright terms in order to "promote the progress of science and useful arts," CTEA granted precedent to continually renew copyright terms making them virtually perpetual. Justice Breyer argued in his dissent that is highly unlikely any artist will be more inclined to produce work knowing their great-grandchildren will receive royalties. With regard to retroactive copyright extension he viewed it foolish to apply the government's argument that income received from royalties allows artists to produce more work saying, "How will extension help today’s Noah Webster create new works 50 years after his death?" 
In a separate dissenting opinion, Justice Stevens also challenged the virtue of an individual reward, analyzing it from the perspective of patent law. John Paul Stevens (born April 20, 1920) is currently the most senior Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. He argued that the focus on compensation results only in “frustrating the legitimate members of the public who want to make use of it (a completed invention) in a free market. ” Further, the compelling need to encourage creation is proportionally diminished once a work is already created. Yet while a formula pairing commercial viability to duration of protection may be said to produce more economically efficient results in respect of high technology inventions with shorter shelf-lives, the same perhaps cannot be said for certain forms of copyrighted works, for which the present value of expenditures relating to creation depend less on scientific equipment and research and development programmes and more on unquantifiable creativity. 
Lessig expressed surprise that no decision was authored by Chief Justice Rehnquist or by any of the other four justices who supported the Lopez or Morrison decisions. Lessig would later regret basing his defence on legal arguments based on precedent, rather than attempting to demonstrate that the weakening of the public domain would cause harm to the economic health of the country.