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day permlink Wednesday, 15 January 2003

permlink Harry Potter 5 : June 21

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is scheduled to appear June 21. [Reuters] The article also includes two bits of text from the book, including the opening:
The hottest day of the summer so far was drawing to a close and a drowsy silence lay over the large, square houses of Privet Drive ... The only person left outside was a teenage boy who was lying flat on his back in a flowerbed outside number four.


Dumbledore lowered his hands and surveyed Harry through his half-moon glasses. "It is time," he said, "for me to tell you what I should have told you five years ago, Harry.

"Please sit down. I am going to tell you everything."
Expression of anticipatory excitement. permlink  

permlink Eldred, Lessig and the rest of us lose

The Supreme Court has made the unfortunate decision to side with the corporate toadies in Congress. [Lessig's blog] The two dissents are lovely and (in my non-lawyer opinion) do a fine job of making the case that this is the wrong decision. From Breyer (PDF):
This statute will cause serious expression-related harm. It will likely restrict traditional dissemination of copyrighted works. It will likely inhibit new forms of dissemination through the use of new technology. It threatens to interfere with efforts to preserve our Nation's historical and cultural heritage and efforts to use that heritage, say, to educate our Nation’s children. It is easy to understand how the statute might benefit the private financial interests of corporations or heirs who own existing copyrights. But I cannot find any constitutionally legitimate, copyright-related way in which the statute will benefit the public. Indeed, in respect to existing works, the serious public harm and the virtually nonexistent public benefit could not be more clear.
From Stevens (PDF):
One must indulge in two untenable assumptions to find support in the equitable argument offered by respondent--that the public interest in free access to copyrighted works is entirely worthless and that authors, as a class, should receive a windfall solely based on completed creative activity. Indeed, Congress has apparently indulged in those assumptions for under the series of extensions to copyrights, only one year's worth of creative work--that copyrighted in 1923--has fallen into the public domain during the last 80 years. But as our cases repeatedly and consistently emphasize, ultimate public access is the overriding purpose of the constitutional provision.

...By failing to protect the public interest in free access to the products of inventive and artistic genius—indeed, by virtually ignoring the central purpose of the Copyright/Patent Clause—the Court has quitclaimed to Congress its principal responsibility in this area of the law. Fairly read, the Court has stated that Congress' actions under the Copyright/Patent Clause are, for all intents and purposes, judicially unreviewable. That result cannot be squared with the basic tenets of our constitutional structure.
So. Back to the drawing board. The only avenue left, it seems, is to try to get Congress itself to repeal the bad law. And I hate to be defeatist, but that sure doesn't seem likely to happen.

Hope I'm wrong, though. permlink     4 comment(s)  

Corporate toadies? Gee, how do you really feel?

The Supreme Court made the correct decision under the law. Congress acted within its power when it passed CTEA. I thought the decision was very straight-forward in its explanation.

      ...posted by Scott Ladewig on January 15, 2003 6:53 PM
At least two Supreme Court justices disagree that it's the correct decision. That counts for something, and I recommend looking over their dissents for plenty of scholarly backup.

Clearly 'Limited Times' should mean something. Extending copyright over a generation past the author's death makes it effectively limitless. So much for strict constructionists and the framers' intent.

And yes, large corporate donors get disproportionate favors from Congress (see also 'broadcast spectrum'). What, this is news?
      ...posted by Steve on January 15, 2003 7:39 PM
The dissents here are powerful, and in the long run may turn out to have more effect. Justice Brandeis' dissent in Olmstead (in which he argued that police need warrants to wiretap) is the inspiration for much modern privacy law. Dred Scott was not unanimous. There is hope that wiser individuals in the future will see the danger of a shrinking public domain.

This Court repeatedly demonstrates its preference for the powerful over the people -- see Bush v. Gore. It also has not refrained from putting limits on Congressional authority in the past -- see its ruling on the Violence Against Women Act.
      ...posted by Mrs. NowThis (aka Medley) on January 15, 2003 7:49 PM
As I wrote over at Mrs. NowThis's blog, the Supremes upheld the letter of the law, even if Congress violated the spirit of the Constitution. I think that the dissents are a drawing of a line in the sand, letting Congress know that they've gone as far as the Supremes will allow them to go.

Not that I agree with what Congress did in the first place, the bastards.
      ...posted by Neil on January 16, 2003 12:22 AM
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