7.9 Eldred case

This case is outlined on pages 196–199 of The Future of Ideas. There have been a number of developments since the book was published, the most significant being that the US Supreme Court heard the case in the autumn of 2002 and made a decision in January 2003. Eldred's arguments were rejected by a majority of 7:2.

Lessig and Eldred are now calling for an ‘Eldred Act’, which would require US copyright holders to pay a nominal fee (e.g. $1) 50 years after publication of the copyrighted works to retain the copyright. Any works on which the fee was not paid would fall into the public domain. Details can be seen in the relatively short online petition at http://www.petitiononline.com/eldred/petition.html.

Meanwhile, some of Lessig's colleagues at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society are pursuing another Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA) case. In Golan v Gonzales they are, so far successfully, specifically challenging the restoration of copyright status to works that had already passed into the public domain. In Kahle v Gonzales they are claiming that the CTEA, combined with the US implementation of the international Berne Convention, effectively make the term of copyright in the US unlimited. This would be in breach of the US Constitution.

7.10 Sony v Owen (UK anti-circumvention case)