The Dead Poets Society: The Copyright Term and the Public Domain
First Monday, Vol. 8, No. 6, June 2003
38 Pages Posted: 14 Oct 2004
In a victory for corporate control of cultural heritage, the Supreme Court of the United States has rejected a constitutional challenge to the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act 1998 (U.S.) by a majority of seven to two. This paper evaluates the litigation in terms of policy debate in a number of discourses - history, intellectual property law, constitutional law and freedom of speech, cultural heritage, economics and competition policy, and international trade. It argues that the extension of the copyright term will inhibit the dissemination of cultural works through the use of new technologies - such as Eric Eldred's Eldritch Press and Project Gutenberg. It concludes that there is a need to resist the attempts of copyright owners to establish the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act 1998 (U.S.) as an international model for other jurisdictions - such as Australia.
Keywords: Copyright law, electronic publishing, public domain, Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, European Duration Directive, US-Australia Free Trade Agreement, history, constitutional law, cultural heritage, economics, international trade, perpetual copyright
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