Supreme Court to Consider Constitutionality of Act Restoring Certain Foreign Copyrights

On March 2, 2011, the Supreme Court of the United States granted certiorari in a 10th Circuit case to review whether the Court of Appeals correctly upheld the constitutionality of §104A of the Copyright Act, which created or restored U.S. copyright protection to foreign works in 1996 which never had U.S. protections or had earlier fallen into the public domain in the U.S. because they failed to comply with certain formalities of U.S. copyright law. Petitioners claim that the 15 year-old statute violates the Copyright Clause by restoring copyrights of public domain works and violates a First Amendment right to exploit these restored works without permission from the owners.

This will be a decision of great interest to foreign copyright owners and rights holders of foreign works.

The article by CDAS attorney Al J. Daniel, Jr. can be viewed here. It was published in the MLRC MediaLawLetter, March 2011, pp. 9-10, and is reprinted with permission.