Supreme Court rules to uphold 1994 copyright law on foreign works

Posted on: January 19, 2012

Wednesday (1/18) on the Chronicle of Higher Education online, Jeffrey Young writes, “A professor lost his long legal fight to keep thousands of foreign musical scores, books, and other copyrighted works in the public domain when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against him on Wednesday in a case that will affect scholars and artists around the country. The scholar is Lawrence Golan, a music professor and conductor at the University of Denver. He argued that the U.S. Congress did not have the legal authority to remove works from the public domain. It did so in 1994, when the Congress changed U.S. copyright law to conform with an international copyright agreement. The new law reapplied copyright to millions of works that had long been free for anyone to use without permission. The Supreme Court heard the case, Golan v. Holder, No. 10-545, last October, and in a 6-to-2 ruling on Wednesday, the justices upheld the changes in U.S. copyright law. … Mr. Golan’s lawyer criticized the ruling. ‘Obviously this is disappointing,’ said the lawyer, Anthony Falzone, in an interview. He said the decision would greatly increase the number of symphonies that the professor, and artists around the country, ‘are now for all intents and purposes unable to perform and record because the [permissions] fee makes it infeasible.’ ” Golan also serves as music director of the Yakima Symphony in Washington state.

Posted January 19, 2012