Sunday, February 12, 2012

Supreme Court Rules Congress Can Re-Copyright Public Domain Works

When I first heard this, I thought it was simply a joke. It makes absolutely no sense.

The court ruled on a petition by a group of orchestra conductors, educators, performers, publishers and film archivists who urged the justices to reverse an appellate court that ruled against the group, which has relied on artistic works in the public domain for their livelihoods.

The court, however, sympathetic to the plaintiffs’ argument said Congress’ move to re-copyright the works to comport with an international treaty was more important.

The works in question became public domain in the United States long ago. In 1994, Congress adopted legislation to move the works back into copyright, so U.S. policy would comport with an international copyright treaty known as the Berne Convention.


It seems however, the Supreme Court forgot Reid v. Covert, in 1957.  The United States Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution supersedes international treaties ratified by the United States Senate. According to the decision, "this Court has regularly and uniformly recognized the supremacy of the Constitution over a treaty."

As I've blogged before on Copyright  (Corporate Sponsored Censorship of Your Internet), that although Jefferson himself hated the idea of copyright he believed if it should protect anyone it should be the individuals who created the work, and only for so long, at which point the works become public domain. Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution, empowers the United States Congress: 

"To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."

The Constitution clearly states that copyright is there for only one reason, to promote the progress of science and the arts. It exists for no other reason. So why would the Supreme Court rule against a previous court ruling or more likely ignore it, and do the exact opposite that the Constitution states? And worse to protect the copyright of foreign bodies? No one is harmed by the inclusion of these works in the public domain, to the contrary the exclusion of these works from the public domain harms those individuals who need them to work themselves, as well as everyone one of us who use them to enrich our own lives. The creators of these works have long been dead and I'm sure if they could speak for themselves it would be in favor of protecting the sciences and arts by allowing said works to be in the public domain.

This kind of nonsense is getting out of hand and it is just further proof we must do away with copyright altogether. Look don't get me wrong, I love music and movies and all sorts of other intellectual property but the fact is its all art. Art isn't suppose to make you rich, at least not monetarily. Art is suppose to enrich the culture and make people think and become creative themselves. If you want to be an artist you should accept the fact that you will always be poor but you will be doing something you love to do. And really that's how it should be.




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