Golan v. Holder

March 9, 2011

On Monday, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Golan v. Holder (2011 WL 767562 (Mem)). In this copyright case, the Court will examine the constitutionality of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA). Under the URAA, Congress implemented the Berne Convention which prohibits participating countries from requiring creators to jump through any sort of hoops to acquire copyrights:

…The enjoyment and the exercise of these rights shall not be subject to any formality; such enjoyment and such exercise shall be independent of the existence of protection in the country of origin of the work… Art 5(2)

The URAA also  ‘restored’ certain works that fell into the public domain because their creators failed to comply with  statutory formalities.  See section 514 of the act, codified at 17 USCA § 104A.  Unfortunately, business like the ones run by Mr. Golan relied on the ability to market these works without licensing them.

The Constitution grants Congress authority to draft legislation which “promotes the progress” of the arts and sciences.  So, the question is whether restoring works already in the public domain might properly be viewed as incentivizing the production of new works.   Detailed background on this case can be found at the SCOTUSblog case page and TechDirt.

RESEARCH REFERENCES

Supreme Court Docket Number: 10-545

Stanford CIS Site: Golan v. Gonzales

10th Circuit Case: For related cases and court documents, find the History Tab (on WLNext) or the link for Graphical View (on Westlaw) at the 10th Circuit case: 609 F.3d 1076

  

Berne Convention: S. Treaty Doc. No. 99-27

Federal Register: 104A requires authors wishing to enforce their restored rights to notify ‘reliance parties.’   These notices may delivered to the Copyright Office which are subsequently published in the Federal Register (FR):

action +20 “notice of intent” /s uruguay (12 Results)

and

“notice of intent” & 104a (20 Results)

Popular Name Index Data for the Uruguay Round Agreements Act:

Enacting law: Pub.L. 103–465, Dec. 8, 1994, 108 Stat. 4809

Amending laws:

Pub.L. 104–127, Title II, Subtitle A, § 201(b), Apr. 4, 1996, 110 Stat. 951 (19 § 3611)

Pub.L. 104–188, Title I, ch. 4, § 1449(a), Subtitle J, § 1954(a)(6), Aug. 20, 1996, 110 Stat. 1813, 1928 (19 § 3551; 26 § 411 note)

Pub.L. 104–295, §§ 11, 20(a)(2), (b)(2), (5), (6), (9) to (11), (13), (16), (c)(1), (2), (7), (9), (d)(2), (f)(2), Oct. 11, 1996, 110 Stat. 3520, 3527 to 3529 (19 §§ 1337, 1671b, 1673a, 1673d, 1677–1, 2192, 2416, 2465 note, 3552, 3571, 3572, 3591, 3592, 3602)

Pub.L. 105–34, Title XVI, § 1604(b)(3), Aug. 5, 1997, 111 Stat. 1097 (26 § 411 note)

Pub.L. 105–206, Title V, § 5003(b)(5), July 22, 1998, 112 Stat. 790 (19 § 3555)

Pub.L. 105–362, Title XIV, § 1401(c), Nov. 10, 1998, 112 Stat. 3294 (19 § 3622)

Pub.L. 106–200, Title IV, § 405(a), May 18, 2000, 114 Stat. 292 (19 § 3592)