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repost: disney and copyright

I'm forwarding this message because in a year when I
look back and want to find it I'm going to want to 
find it in the debian-legal archives.



----- Forwarded message from Mike Bilow <mikebw@colossus.bilow.com> -----

Date: Thu, 18 May 2000 06:06:48 -0400 (EDT)
From: Mike Bilow <mikebw@colossus.bilow.com>
To: Branden Robinson <branden@ecn.purdue.edu>
cc: debian-devel@lists.debian.org
Subject: Re: [OT] Re: Copyright....

On 2000-05-18 at 02:46 -0400, Branden Robinson wrote:

> On Tue, May 16, 2000 at 06:17:31AM -0400, Mike Bilow wrote:
> > The time sequences just changed under US law, actually.  This was due to
> > heavy lobbying by outfits such as Disney, which was about to see the
> > early Mickey Mouse films fall into the public domain.  There is some
> > action in the federal courts on the constitutionality of this.
> There is?  The Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act should absolutely be
> overturned.
> Do you have any case number references?

The lead case is Eldred v. Reno, which is being brought as a test case in
a project mostly run by Lawrence Lessig.  You may have heard of Lessig in
connection with the Microsoft antitrust case, as he is the Harvard Law
professor that Judge Jackson originally tried to appoint to assist the
court.  In any event, see:


The case is, frankly, a mess.  The whole idea of a court challenge to an
act of Congress in an area of authority specifically enumerated by the
Constitution was obviously a longshot, although the theory advanced does
have merit, but this virtually guaranteed an adverse result in the lower
courts.  At the moment, the case is on appeal to the Federal Circuit from
a granting of summary judgment against the plaintiffs.

As far as I know, the case raises several very awkward issues of first
impression, such as the extent of the Constitutional basis for copyright
and the grounding of fair use in the "public trust" doctrine.  Although
some of this might have a theoretical connection with issues of importance
to Debian -- specifically the underlying legal theory advanced by the
plaintiffs that intellectual property can be owned in common much like a
river or a park -- this list probably is not the place to discuss it.

-- Mike

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