Copyright holders welcomed the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Golan v. Holder

 On 18 January 2012 the U.S. Supreme Court upheldthe authority of U.S. Congress to extend the scope of copyright protection to foreign works that have already entered the public

domain saying that it neither violatesthe Constitution’s copyright

clausenor the First Amendment’s guarantee of free expression. (To

obtain the judgement, please visit HERE)


The issue raised in Golan v. Holder concerns

the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA) of 1994 which was signed by the US Congress

in order to bring the country’s copyright law in line with and the international copyright laws (including the Berne Convention and the TRIPS

agreement). The agreement amend the U. S. copyright law and

under Section 514, it granted copyright protection to a set of foreign works

that were previously in the American public domain. As a result, a group of

petitioners (including orchestra conductors, educators, performers, film

archivists, and motion picture distributors), who had formerly enjoyed free

availability of certain works, protested against the federal government’s

restoration of the copyright protection. Among other things, they claimed that

First Amendment interests of a higher order were at stake.


However, the justices said that “neither the Copyright

and Patent Clause nor the First Amendment, we hold, makes the public domain, in

any and all cases, a territory that works may never exit” and added that it is

in U. S. interest to “secure greater protection for U. S. authors abroad, and

remedying unequal treatment of foreign authors”.


In Europe, EU laws (Directive 2006/116/EC)

provides a longer term of protection for authors and the protected work can

only be considered in the public domain 70 years after the death of the author.

The term of protection has recently extended to music and other sound



Further information can be found HERE