U.S. Supreme Court Issues Copyright Opinion in Golan v. Holder, Protecting Foreign Copyrights in the United States

Washington, DC – The U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed the constitutionality of the Uruguay Round Agreements regarding copyright protection for foreign parties. In 1994, Congress enacted Uruguay Round Agreements Act, which implemented negotiations in the World Trade Organization’s Marrakech Agreement. US Supreme Court.jpgThe law in question restored foreign copyrighted works that had previously been in the public domain back to the private domain and granted U.S. copyright protection for those works. Copyright attorneys for Golan and a group of musicians who had used foreign works while the works were in the public domain had filed this lawsuit against United States Attorney General Eric Holder, arguing that the Act violated the U.S. Constitution’s Copyright Clause and violated the First Amendment Rights of those who had free access to the works that were restored to private domain.

The Supreme Court rejected these challenges and affirmed the constitutionality of the Act. The Court’s opinion emphasized that the Act brought the United States’ law into harmony with that of other nations. The SCOTUSblog has links to all the parties’ and amicus briefs as well comprehensive coverage of this case.

The Court’s opinion affirmed the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals decision and the decision of Judge Babcock of the United States District Court of Colorado.

Practice Tip: The U.S. Supreme Court has a long trend of strenuously protecting the rights of intellectual property owners. This case is yet another example.

The Court’s opinion was written by Justice Ginsberg and was joined by Justices Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas and Sotomayor. Justice Breyer wrote a dissenting opinion which was joined by Justice Alito. Justice Kagan recused herself from the case. The case was Case No. 10-545.GolanvHolder

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