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US Supreme Court Upholds Removal of Works From Public Domain

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the taking-it-back dept.

The Courts 380

langelgjm writes "While much of the web is focused on the SOPA and PIPA blackout, supporters of the public domain today quietly lost a protracted struggle that began back in 2001. The Supreme Court, in a 6-2 decision, rejected the argument that Congress did not have the power to convey copyright upon works that were already in the public domain. The suit was originally filed to challenge provisions that the U.S. adopted when signing the TRIPs agreement. Justices Breyer and Alito dissented, arguing that conveyed copyright on already existing works defied the logic of copyright law. Justice Kagan recused herself. The text of the opinions is available here (PDF)."

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Organized trolling campaign by GreatBunzinni (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38743140)

GreatBunzinni [slashdot.org] has been posting anonymous accusations [slashdot.org] listing a whole bunch of Slashdot accounts as being part of a marketing campaign for Microsoft, without any evidence. GreatBunzinni has accidentally outed himself [slashdot.org] as this anonymous poster. Half the accounts he attacks don't even post pro-Microsoft rhetoric. The one thing they appear to have in common is that they have been critical of Google in the past. GreatBunzinni has been using multiple accounts to post these "shill" accusations, such as Galestar [slashdot.org] , NicknameOne [slashdot.org] , and flurp [slashdot.org] .

That's not the problem. The problem is that moderators gave him +5 Informative and are now modding down the accused, even for legitimate posts. Metamoderation is supposed to address this by filtering out the bad moderators, but clearly it's not working.

This "shill" crap that has been flying around lately has to stop. It's restricting a variety of viewpoints from participating on the site and creating an echo chamber.

Re:Organized trolling campaign by GreatBunzinni (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38743312)

New Troll Alert New Troll Alert New Troll Alert

TechGZ just opened an account, and his VERY FIRST POST was this:

What's ridiculous is that Google only put it in small text on their homepage, where most people don't ever go and it's hard to notice. So much for Google caring about the goodness of internet or people. For example, Namecheap put a whole page for it, and it's going to cost them business. Even while they aren't large as Google. Google didn't care at all.

He was 100% wrong, and was modded accordingly. But he got it in, regardless.

TechGZ is the same troll as CmdrPony, and many many others.

New Troll Alert New Troll Alert New Troll Alert

Re:Organized trolling campaign by GreatBunzinni (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38743390)

Methinks the paid shill trolls protest too much.

Is there nothing... (5, Insightful)

wealthychef (584778) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743150)

this court won't do to rob ordinary citizens of property?

Re:Is there nothing... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38743234)

missed the part about Congress there didn't you?

Here are some copyright holders complaining [deadline.com] about the people to whom they give money.

Re:Is there nothing... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38743238)

Not when it benefits the rich and powerful.

No, there is not (5, Insightful)

Brain-Fu (1274756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743276)

"What do all men with power want? More power." -- The Oracle (from The Matrix).

Ideas are the most valuable commodity on the market today. Maintaining and increasing wealth is a simple matter of maintaining and increasing control over that which is valuable.

There is no principle of justice or reason which will not be trampled underfoot in the name of increasing the power of the aristocracy.

The only way to get the aristocracy to treat the rest of the world reasonably is to force them to do so. Appeals to fairness or practicality will not make them budge. The rest of us have a numbers advantage but that only helps when we are organized enough to use it. If you want reasonable copyright terms, you will have to force their hand. Count on it.

Re:Is there nothing... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38743536)

ahahahahhahahahahha. Snort.

Now they are taking away things already in the public domain?? Your legal system is as hilarious to watch as your government. Put the two together and it is just comedy gold.

I mean it wouldn't be as funny if the corruption wasn't so obvious but as we all know - hyperbole is hilarious.

You are so screwed....

Re:Is there nothing... (5, Insightful)

schroedingers_hat (2449186) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743986)

Don't worry, they'll force their laws on your country, too with 'free trade' agreements and treaties..

Re:Is there nothing... (2)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743646)

What do you mean?

Our corporate citizens are finally not being quite so discriminated against!

However, though this small battle has been won, the war is far from over. There are still a few rights that the so-called "natural citizens" have that are unjustly denied to the corporate citizens.

Furthermore, there is still a chance that Them The People might take back the instrument of the People (the government), and stop it from being turned to its proper use (the tool of the corporate fiefs).

Re:Is there nothing... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38743682)

Doesn't surprise me much after I read this, "The Constitution of the United States of America including analysis and interpretation of the Constitution with annotations of cases decided by the Supreme Court of the United States through June 29, 2004" @ http://law.justia.com/constitution/us/ [justia.com] .
Kinda woke me up to the "Brave New 1984" this place is turning out to be and it's not crap by some nutball, its SCOTUS telling us black is white, 2+2=3 . Frankly, I suspect some of the nutballs are on to something.

Re:Is there nothing... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38743692)

Please take a look at this (if you still can):

http://www.linuxtoday.com/news_story.php3?ltsn=2012-01-13-002-39-OP-OO-LL-0000

It's woefully redacted but the two main things intended to be conveyed were:

1) IP is in fact "Idea Piracy" the forceful appropriation of things one does not or cannot own... some -- including "Larry, the free software guy" use a Latin motto to put it very well: "Res publica non dominetur". Since my language is Latin-derived, I venture to offer a tentative translation: "You shall not take over a public thing" or, perhaps better, "A public thing shall not be taken over".

and

2) Sometimes governments "let" private entities do the dirty work. Think "privateers" or "corsairs" who got official recognition and status by a decree and could do whatever they want; these would only become extinct when the general consensus and international treaties allowed everyone to get rid of them. We need such treaties to be made effective to put an end to such private entities evildoings and to help some governments to get sober again.

I welcome being corrected wherever I am wrong. These views are my modest understanding of some of the problems we face now and an analogy to other bad moments in history we had the good fortune to overcome.

Re:Is there nothing... (1)

mrmeval (662166) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743728)

What will the citizenry do to them to stop it? Hrmmmm?

Terrible (4, Insightful)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743154)

So, if Congress so wishes... they can apply copyright to anything in the public domain.
Shakespear here we come!

Re:Terrible (4, Informative)

u38cg (607297) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743210)

I haven't read the opinion, but generally speaking, my understanding is that international treaties signed by the US are on the same legal level as the Constitution. So if the Berne Convention says that such-and-such must be copyrighted, then Congress must have de facto power to copyright it.

Re:Terrible (4, Interesting)

pieterh (196118) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743240)

You miss the point here, which is that international treaties such as the Berne Convention and TRIPS are written and promoted into law by (US and European) copyright lobbies. So it's nice and circular. US law says A, so $$$ creates international law that says B, and now US law regretfully changes to say B. This tactic is also used by governments when they want to pass really unpopular legislation, e.g. the data retention directive in Europe, which was kicked out of the UK Parliament, pushed into EU law by the UK government, and then brought back to the UK without dissent.

Re:Terrible (2)

Kaenneth (82978) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743610)

Well, some laws are best implemented everywhere at once; things like greenhouse gas controls. No one county wants to cripple its industries by placing expensive restrictions that no other country yet has. Otherwise companies will just move to those countries that lack the laws.

Re:Terrible (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743292)

Ya, it's a supreme court ruling, so it's going to the power congress does or does not have. Not whether or not it should be doing those things. Public domain isn't somehow embedded in the constitution to make it superior to the will of congress, even if that puts existing copyright law on par with anything else congress does, it can still vote to change it.

For all of the things wrong with copyright in the US, there's a lot to be said for the simplicity of the same copyright rules applying everywhere, or at least in more places, so you don't have different rules in the UK, the resto fo Europe, the US etc.

Re:Terrible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38743454)

If you change that to the same *minimal* rules, I'd agree. Unfortunately those same rules seem to have a really bad case of rule creep. 75+ life copyright terms in America, where in the U.K. up until recently it was a straight 50 years, which seems to be a reasonable amount of time to make money on one's work.

Re:Terrible (3, Insightful)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743464)

From my reading of the US constitution, the Congress is not allowed to enact any copyright laws at all. 10th Amendment disallows messing with anything that is not an enumerated power (as defined by article 1 section 8). The referred to power allows "promoting Science and Useful Arts".

This can be read two ways:
* in 18th century, "useful arts" did not mean "art" in today's sense of the word; this clause allows patents
* if you use "art" in the modern sense, this disallows copyright on typical entertainment (definitely not "useful")

Re:Terrible (4, Insightful)

PRMan (959735) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743532)

And beyond that, anything that doesn't promote additional works should be unconstitutional. Taking dead authors' works out of the public domain doesn't encourage creation.

Re:Terrible (4, Informative)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743486)

I haven't read the opinion, but generally speaking, my understanding is that international treaties signed by the US are on the same legal level as the Constitution.

This understanding is incorrect. Its a reasonably common misapplication of Art. VI, para 2: "This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding."

This doesn't mean that treaties (or federal statute law) is on the "same legal level" as the Constitution, it means that the Constitution itself, and any treaties or laws ratified or adopted under it, are superior to acts of state government.

The rationale in the decision in this case [wired.com] is basically that the Copyright Clause has no language in it which prohibits retrospective application of the exclusive rights Congress is authorized to grant under that Clause, and that, there is a long history of Congress creating copyright in existing works which were in the public domain, the whole way back to the first copyright law under the Constitution, the Copyright Act of 1790.

Re:Terrible (1)

Zebai (979227) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743840)

No language to prohibit, I was understanding that the federal government has no power that is not specifically given so would the lack of such language mean no permission to do so? Or am I just wrong on that?

This treaty may kill software patents! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38743566)

There may be a silver lining to this mess. If you read article 10.1 located here it says:

"Article 10.1 provides that computer programs, whether in source or object code, shall be protected as literary works under the Berne Convention (1971). This provision confirms that computer programs must be protected under copyright and that those provisions of the Berne Convention that apply to literary works shall be applied also to them. It confirms further, that the form in which a program is, whether in source or object code, does not affect the protection. The obligation to protect computer programs as literary works means e.g. that only those limitations that are applicable to literary works may be applied to computer programs. It also confirms that the general term of protection of 50 years applies to computer programs. Possible shorter terms applicable to photographic works and works of applied art may not be applied."

IANAL, but does that mean that upholding the treaty also ENDS SOFTWARE PATENTS!

Oh you people and your fucking Constitution! (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38743818)

When are you people going to wake up and realize that the US government, courts, etc., hold the "Constitution" in as much regard as a piece of used toilet paper.

Jesus, people, wake up and smell the coffee - the "government" does not work for you and could not give a damn about you rights! It is bought and paid for by the 1% and run by the 0.1 %

I don't give a shit if it is the Demicans or the Republicrats. Neither works for you. The 2-party system has been completely overtaken by money.

For a supposedly smart bunch people, you really are dumb. The experiment is done. The results are that the psychopaths win.

Re:Terrible (5, Insightful)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743248)

Which, in effect, means there is no public domain, since this means there is retroactive copyright. Which is rather a frightening concept given how much has been put out in the public domain for the express purpose of nobody owning it.

Re:Terrible (5, Interesting)

rockman_x_2002 (1791612) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743744)

That does appear to be the case. Oh there's still public domain as a sort of status, however temporary. But this renders anything in public domain into what's essentially a nebulous limbo until someone comes along and stakes claim to it to re-up the copyright on it.

Naturally it would be in the best interest for a public domain interest group to form and keep a watchful eye on all works entering into public domain, staking claim to said works as soon as it fall into public domain, then immediately releasing it under a sort of GNU-type license that everyone can have free access to the work(s) in question.

After all, as long as someone has a claim to it, especially if it's a collective group for the express purpose of keeping public domain items free for general use by the public, doesn't that still accomplish what public domain has for all these years anyway? It's just a way of working around this new ruling to render it the same.

Re:Terrible (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38743804)

Is that really what is happening? You may be right, but my understanding was that this was about extending copyright, and the idea that you could extend it and thus take works that had moved from being protected under copyright to public domain by virtue of the expiration of copyright and move them back under copyright by extending copyright.

My impression was that this has nothing to do with works that had been specifically placed in the public domain by authors.

All lawyers and judges should be killed painfully (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38743160)

n/t

Fifth Amendment? (5, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743180)

The fifth amendment prohibits the taking of private property for public use without just compensation. We need an amendment that prohibits the taking of public property for private use without just compensation.

Re:Fifth Amendment? (2)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743326)

The fifth amendment prohibits the taking of private property for public use without just compensation. We need an amendment that prohibits the taking of public property for private use without just compensation.

NDAA put an end to that, as well as the patriot act, and don't forget the whimsical executive orders. The Corporate states of America consider you nothing more than property to be bought and sold.

Re:Fifth Amendment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38743434)

That doesn't even make sense.

Re:Fifth Amendment? (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743708)

Of course it doesn't.

We don't get to be bought and sold.

We can just be taken by force.

Thanks for nothing, SC... (1)

TiggertheMad (556308) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743418)

We need an amendment that prohibits the taking of public property for private use without just compensation.

Who are you going to compensate? How are you going to figure out how much to pay who ever you compensate? If you roll back the copyright on MLK's 'I have a dream speech', are you going to mail a check for $1.21 to everybody in the USA?

This is a bad ruling, because it sets a president that allows for congress to monkey (further) with copyright. And, it seems to be a well established pattern that congress can be bought, more or less if you have money to throw about (e.g. those assholes at Disney). So basically this means that you can buy works out of public domain if you want to spend the cash it will take.

A better solution would be to throw this out, and rule that the treaty as negotiated, was unconstitutional. Would it really kill us to have to go back an re-negotiate a single treaty in order to preserve the intent of the Constitution? I think not.

Re:Thanks for nothing, SC... (1)

reverius (471142) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743460)

Don't the assholes at Google have way more money than the assholes at Disney? Why is Disney seemingly winning this war?

Re:Thanks for nothing, SC... (2)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743608)

because the assholes at google have not yet waken up to the fact that the 'magic' aura of the untouchable has faded long ago from the world of i.t., internet, and silicon valley. and they need to fight to defend themselves from the dinosaurs, who have just woken up to what internet was doing in the last 5 years and got into offensive.

Re:Thanks for nothing, SC... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743724)

Google does not have bought and paid for senators.

Disney has that dishonest evil Fritz Hollings on their payroll.

Google has no change until they buy their own senator.

Fritz Hollings (3, Insightful)

Scareduck (177470) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743792)

hasn't been in the Senate since 2004.

Re:Thanks for nothing, SC... (3, Informative)

TopSpin (753) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743906)

Don't the assholes at Google have way more money than the assholes at Disney?

Google has a nice market cap, but otherwise it isn't necessarily wealthier than the media corps. Consider revenue; Google had $35.76B of revenue during the previous 12 months. Disney alone had $40.89B. The combined revenue of Time Warner, Disney, Sony and DreamWorks was $159.53B.

Incidentally, those media names figure prominently at OpenSecrets [opensecrets.org] as big contributors. DreamWorks in particular punching well above its weight. About 95% of it goes to one party. It is left as an exercise to the reader to discover which one.

Re:Fifth Amendment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38743482)

The fifth amendment prohibits the taking of private property for public use without just compensation. We need an amendment that prohibits the taking of public property for private use without just compensation.

Exactly! Any money the public paid to have these works put in the public domain should immediately be refunded.

Re:Fifth Amendment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38743616)

Copyright and theft are very different. They are making laws against sharing (a community building activity) and not against theft (which is antisocial).

Re:Fifth Amendment? (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743750)

a community building activity

That is about the lamest rationale I believe I have ever heard.

Re:Fifth Amendment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38743688)

Believe it or not, there's a state with just such an amendment.

Well, at least in part:

That an equal participation in the free navigation of the Mississippi, is one of the inherent rights of the citizens of this State; it cannot, therefore, be conceded to any prince, potentate, power, person or persons whatever.

Tennessee. Some others may have more expansive descriptions.

A theoretical future call to Disney (4, Funny)

Scareduck (177470) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743192)

"Um, hello, I own the rights to 'Snow White' and all the properties of the Brothers Grimm. We need to discuss your flagrant infringing use of my client's intellectual property dating back to the very founding of your company."

Re:A theoretical future call to Disney (2)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743290)

Sadly, it's Disney that's likely to be placing the call. The way IP works in the US these days, it would not surprise me if corporations can (and do) retroactively seize control of works by others even from other countries if they have been made public domain.

Re:A theoretical future call to Disney (4, Interesting)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743620)

They'll call it the "mea est ergo meus" principle (it is mine, therefore it is mine).

The argument will go like this:

We (Disney) own the modern canonical version of Snow White. Therefore, we own all previous versions, otherwise, our trademark and copyrights would be weakened, and there would be confusion in the marketplace. And by extension, everything else by the Brothers Grimm is ours, too.

How does that even work? (2)

majesticmerc (1353125) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743218)

How does copyrighting a previously public domain item even work? I mean, if someone copyrights, say, a book in the public domain, and I then go ahead and reprint that book, I can state that my copy is a printed version of the public domain version, and any copyright claim should be moot, since they can't prove I used the copyrighted version. Am I missing something?

Madness.

Re:How does that even work? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743266)

In that case any copies made prior to becoming protected again would be fine, but those made after the change wouldn't be. However, the big problem is one of ownership, once something goes into the public domain you can't just take it out of the public domain as in many cases nobody would have legal right to assume ownership of it.

Re:How does that even work? (1)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743324)

It means that if they copyright the pd work, they own all derivatives of that pd work, even if the derivative was made before they claimed copyright. It's the only way it could work.

Re:How does that even work? (3, Insightful)

shentino (1139071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743722)

Actually, you'll get into a legal fight and whoever has the most money to throw at congress will wind up owning both versions.

Well that's only a little shit (5, Interesting)

viperidaenz (2515578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743232)

The copyright terms should be fixed at the moment a work is granted copyright. Future laws should have no power to change when an existing work is transferred to the public domain.
In these specific cases however I'd vote on the side of the court. The copyright terms granted to the works were those in effect in the country they were produced, so should be respected.
Retroactively extending copyright should be outlawed and all extensions should be revoked.

Re:Well that's only a little shit (2)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743318)

Agreed. The purpose of copyright is to encourage creation of artistic or literary works. If someone's already created something, they don't need further encouragement.

Re:Well that's only a little shit (3, Insightful)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743412)

Wrong! The purpose of copyright is to make money for our Corporate Overlords.

Re:Well that's only a little shit (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743826)

I'm sorry, but that didn't make sense to me. The point of copyright is to allow the creator control so as to make a living. That's the further encouragement. First time you starve, everyone understands that. Subsequent iterations should get progressively easier if your work is desirable.

Re:Well that's only a little shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38743872)

It's a shame that only 2 supreme court justices agree with you...your comment is almost a verbatim quote from their dissent.

Re:Well that's only a little shit (3, Insightful)

PRMan (959735) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743550)

Shouldn't that make this an Ex Post Facto law? Again, making it unconstitutional?

Re:Well that's only a little shit (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743924)

You could argue that the works related to the article were never in the public domain, since they should be under the copyright of the country they were created in and the ruling is just correcting a previous mistake.

Re:Well that's only a little shit (1)

Tokolosh (1256448) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743854)

They have done it before. And Ginsburg wrote the opinion!

http://www.copyright.gov/docs/eldrdedo.pdf [copyright.gov]

and no doubt they will do it again...

Only This International Treaty? (4, Insightful)

esocid (946821) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743242)

It's sort of strange that of all the international treaties, this is the one that is going to be enforced in the US. /not that I agree with it at all.

Re:Only This International Treaty? (1)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743674)

Not really that strange.

Not torturing people does not make a profit, nor does it enhance the existing power structure.

Handing yet more property rights to the corporations does.

Congratulations... (4, Insightful)

His Shadow (689816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743252)

The US has created a system that is terrified that someone, somewhere, is not making money in perpetuity on property they did not create.

Re:Congratulations... (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38743508)

You have just paraphrased the guiding mission statement of the Republican party

Congratulations USA! (2)

E IS mC(Square) (721736) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743374)

Congratulations USA! The judiciary has finally confirmed that you have sold your soul to corporations. Capitalism is just awesome, isn't it?

WTF (3, Insightful)

shentino (1139071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743388)

Seriously, WTF?

Don't we have something in the constitution about, I dunno, ex post facto laws?

What about all those people who copied or derived from formerly public domain works that are now under copyright again?

Re:WTF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38743518)

Most likely that since you're not accountable for breaking laws that didn't exist at the time of the offense, you wouldn't be liable for infringing on copyrights that were at the time public domain.

But there'll be hell (and *AA) to pay if you do it again now.

Re:WTF (4, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743526)

Seriously, WTF?

Don't we have something in the constitution about, I dunno, ex post facto laws?

An ex post facto law is a law which makes an act criminal (or increases the criminal punishment applicable to the act) after the act was committed. Applying copyright to existing works (even to the extent that copyright law has criminal elements) isn't an ex post facto law.

(It would be if doing so meant that the exclusive rights under copyright and the criminal penalties that apply for violating them applied to acts which occurred prior to the passage of the law taking the works out of the public domain, but that's not the issue here.)

Re:WTF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38743530)

Ex post facto applies to crimes, not laws. So it would be unconstitutional to try someone for crimes or sue him for damages because he made copies of a work when it was public domain because it is no longer public domain. In other words, the ex post facto clause states that laws cannot retroactively create criminals. It does not make it illegal to enstate a law that can take works out of the public domain.

Re:WTF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38743642)

Don't we have something in the constitution about, I dunno, ex post facto laws?

If you passed a law that said that anyone who ever downloaded a free copy of A Study in Scarlet shall be guilty of a felony, that would be EPF and unconstitutional.

If you passed a law that said that from this day forward, A Study in Scarlet shall be removed from the public domain and from this day forward, anyone copying it shall be guilty blah blah, that is not.

(BTW, some of the Sherlock Holmes stories are still under copyright, amazingly enough.)

Not surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38743406)

This is not a surprising decision, it actually shows consistency. The U.S. have shown many times that intellectual property is the new frontier in the modern economy and they will take any steps required to secure the poll position in this new gold rush. This decision is equivalent to "rescuing" intellectual property that was previously "lost" to the public domain. It is consistent with how the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approve "efficacious and safe" new drugs, how the US Pattent Office issue patents for obvious "inventions", how Congress extends copyright for successful artistic works (think Disney) way beyond established legal limits, and how the U.S. put pressure on other coutries to implement copyright laws similar to their own. Lawyers and judges are now guardians of IP the same way the military are guardians of external oil resources and overseas business oportunities. It's just a fact and we should get used to it.

Bush Nominees (4, Interesting)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743438)

Did anyone notice the two dissenters were appointed to the court by President George W. Bush?

Re:Bush Nominees (1, Informative)

PRMan (959735) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743574)

Well, he did try to pick people familiar with the Constitution instead of activists...

Re:Bush Nominees (5, Informative)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743738)

Chief Justice Roberts was appointed by Bush. So, one of the Bush appointees - the Chief Justice - went for the ruling.

Alito was also appointed by Bush - so you're right there.

Breyer was appointed by Clinton.

So - yeah. I see the BushCo folks haven't gotten any better grasp of facts since Bush was in office.

But I'm sure you'll find your reality basis soon. It's probably north, south, east, west of here...

Re:Bush Nominees (1)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743968)

Ack! I missed that. You're right, Breyer was President Clinton's pick. I skimmed the page too fast. No need to be snippy, I don't give a shit about Clinton, Bush or Obama. One lying ass politician or another, they're all out to fuck me over for their owners. I did kinda think it was weird that two Bush appointees would oppose something and it appears it was too good to be true.

Re:Bush Nominees (0)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743622)

That still won't stop the haters from hating.

Re:Bush Nominees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38743778)

Or the liars, like you and the GP, from lying.

Re:Bush Nominees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38743676)

Yes. That's why it won't be mentioned anywhere beyond your little thread.

Re:Bush Nominees (4, Informative)

Nixoloco (675549) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743698)

Did anyone notice the two dissenters were appointed to the court by President George W. Bush?

No, because they weren't. Justice Stephen Gerald Breyer was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1994.

Re:Bush Nominees (1)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743704)

No one intelligent did, since Justice Breyer was appointed by Clinton.

Come on mods, I know Wikipedia is blacked out, but there are other ways to fact check!

Re:Bush Nominees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38743770)

I noticed that one of them was. A quick check of wikipedia (minus javascript) shows Breyer was appointed by Clinton.

Civil disobedience is the only option (5, Interesting)

mangu (126918) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743440)

As Heinlein said:

"But I will accept any rules that you feel necessary to your freedom. I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; If I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am responsible for everything I do."

  ("The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress", 1966)

BitTorrent exists for a purpose.

Re:Civil disobedience is the only option (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38743556)

I like the Rage against the machine summary.

Fuck you! I won't do what you tell me.

Re:Civil disobedience is the only option (2)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743626)

As Augustine said:

"An unjust law is no law at all."

("On Free Choice of the Will", 391)

Re:Civil disobedience is the only option (2)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743964)

I wonder how many millions of people have had that thought as they're led away to imprisonment, slavery or death.

Let's Pit Disney against the Supreme Court (4, Interesting)

paulsnx2 (453081) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743446)

Just for fun, let's get congress to copyright all of the Supreme Court's Rulings, and give them to Disney.

If they want to research something, then given them Pay For View and they can listen to Donald Duck act out their old rulings.

Maybe that would give them some insight into what they just did to the public.

Re:Let's Pit Disney against the Supreme Court (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38743578)

Except Disney are the ones that started and financed this mess, because they were about to lose that shitty mouse animation to the public domain.

Two can play at that game (5, Interesting)

Nugoo (1794744) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743456)

Well, that's it. I no long feel guilty about copyright infringement. If you can't keep your end of the bargain, why the fuck should I?

Looks like I'll have to change my sig, too.

Current copyright law is unconstitutional (1)

Forever Wondering (2506940) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743480)

From Article 8: [Congress shall have the power] 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;

---

Notice the word limited anyone [on the Supreme Court]?

Re:Current copyright law is unconstitutional (1)

PRMan (959735) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743590)

1 million years is limited...

Re:Current copyright law is unconstitutional (1)

Pool_Noodle (1373373) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743594)

Define "Limited" ...

Re:Current copyright law is unconstitutional (1)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743810)

Also notice the phrase, "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts"?

Modern copyright and patent law only enhances the patronage system, stifles the arts and hampers the sciences. Not to mention crushing possible and healthy competition.

Re:Current copyright law is unconstitutional (1)

JeanCroix (99825) | more than 2 years ago | (#38744010)

To say nothing of the "to Authors and Inventors" part. If copyrights and patents were non-transferable to begin with, a lot of this whole IP mess wouldn't exist.

Abolish Intellectual Property (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38743500)

Why I support the abolition of intellectual property law:

- Information ceases to be the sole property of its author the moment that it is transmitted in any form to any other party. Information can be kept secret voluntarily by any party which has come into contact with it, but it can't be owned: The act of observing information duplicates it in part or in whole in the observer's memory. At a basic level, information is self-replicating. Thus, information is not scarce.

- Once broadcast or published, any piece of information can hypothetically be duplicated an unlimited number of times at zero additional cost to the author. Improvements in recording technology dating all the way back to woodblock printing have made the duplication of information increasingly trivial, but the ability to duplicate information at all is not a new development, but a fundamental attribute of information itself and records thereof.

- If information is duplicated at no additional real cost to the author, then no damage has been done if that information is duplicated and the author is not entitled to remedy.

- Enforcing intellectual property devalues information by restricting the number of parties which have legal access to it, may utilize it, and therefore may benefit from it; conferring intellectual property rights to any party necessarily monopolizes access to the information for which ownership is sought. Ergo, intellectual property law is harmful, and as the full extent to which a piece of information can be used is impossible to determine, the extent of this harm is incalculable.

- As it has already been established that information itself is not scarce, attention must be turned to the author's mode of compensation. While information, records, and other artifacts can be duplicated ad infinitum, the original authoring of novel information requires the author's time and effort, hitherto known as labor. This labor is the sole and scarce property of the author, and the right to sell that labor is the author's. Other modes of compensation which do not require intellectual property law to be in force are available and practical, including labor contracts, grants, purse competitions, donations, attendance fees for performances, and so on. Ergo, intellectual property law is not necessary.

- With the above in mind, it must be said that if the original intent of intellectual property law was to protect the interests of authors, it demonstrably fails to do so. This is largely due to the nature of the so-called offense, which can be conducted without anyone's knowing and causes no direct and tangible harm to any party. Ergo, intellectual property law is ineffective and unenforceable as written.

- Related to the ineffectiveness of intellectual property law is the fundamental irrationality of the laws themselves. The laws attempt to protect the author's labor, which is scarce and salable, by attempting to create by law an artificial scarcity of information, which is not practically possible, transforming information into a form of fiat property that does not actually exist.

- Meanwhile, the enforcement of intellectual property law is hypothetically without limit. Copyrights and patents grant the exclusive right to utilize pieces of information to licensed parties by curtailing the rights of everyone else to use that information as they see fit and duplicate it freely using only their own time, effort, and physical property without harming the author in any way. Ergo, intellectual property law is inherently tyrannical, and if pursued to the fullest extent possible and necessary to ensure compliance, requires totalitarianism.

- Also related is the extraordinary rights and privileges granted to intellectual property holders to seek damages for actions of other parties which are harmless, concerning imaginary products of labor which is no longer being performed, that they do not and can not exclusively own except in the eyes of the law. The very idea of intellectual property as a means of protecting the labor rights of authors is absurd.

- Not only that, property holders are not necessarily authors themselves - the ownership of intellectual property can be transferred to any party, including parties which were in no way responsible for the authorship of information which they may legally own, removing them even further from any notional harm or entitlement. This compounds the logical and moral absurdity of intellectual property law.

- Additionally, the ability for a party to accumulate vast amounts of intellectual property from other authors, and to deliberately create or obtain intellectual property in order to preempt another party and prevent them from utilizing the information contained therein, compounds the harmfulness of intellectual property law by opening it to abuse. While intellectual property law was always to some extent anti-competitive, so as to allow authors to benefit first from information which they created in order to avoid predation by other more capable producers who may attempt to indirectly benefit from an author's labor, the breadth of the anti-competitiveness of intellectual property law has expanded so drastically that it has become a substantial barrier to entry for new authors and industries. Forcing a party to defend itself from the mere claim of infringement, regardless of the veracity of that claim, can impose an insurmountable financial and legal burden on that party and force them to cease doing business altogether, and to the claimant's benefit. Intellectual property law as practiced is explicitly at odds with the notions of fair competition and therefore at odds with capitalism itself.

- Related to the above, as intellectual property law creates government-granted monopolies over pieces of information, which can turn become meta-monopolies owned by massive rights holders, in practice it encourages monopolism and the artificial centralization of industry and commerce, which is inimicable to free markets.

- Also related to the above, as a rights holder does not necessarily have to be an author of the information to which they are legally and exclusively entitled, and is under no obligation to use a piece of intellectual property which they own in order to legally retain it besides, a rights holder may seek damages against another party's harmless infringing behavior without utilizing their intellectual property for any productive ends at all. Intellectual property law thereby enables arbitrary punishment and predatory behavior by rights holders.

- Therefore, the severe weakening or elimination of intellectual property law will foster far greater competition in every industry, reduce predatory behavior, wind down unnecessary and undeserved economic rents sought by rights holders, and maximize the value of information, conferring economic and social benefits of indeterminate magnitude.

- Eliminating patent monopolies will greatly reduce barriers to entry for nascent industries and permit unbridled innovation in the sciences, making it easier for beneficial technologies to reach the market and at a lower price to the consumer. This includes potentially life-saving medical technologies, which are subject to patents and artificial price inflation which keep them out of the reach of many consumers who need them, and industrial processes which may be patented that can increase the efficiency of production of goods and materials, reduce externalities, and improve product quality.

- At the same time, as no industrial company has unlimited resources, no company can simultaneously utilize every invention or produce every possible product. The responsibility of the industrialist will therefore shift from maintaining unfair control over the marketplace to selecting the best available technologies and opportunities in order to serve the market. Industrial competition will become more active, and the most successful will be those who mobilize their resources the most effectively. Unscrupulous activity by industrialists in other areas is still able to be prosecuted, and should be.

- Eliminating the copyright monopoly will also deprive the mass media of an undeserved and crucial revenue stream, weakening media consolidation and in many instances making the consumer mass media as we know it unprofitable and impossible to maintain. This is also to society's great benefit. By monopolizing access to cultural artifacts and recordings of broadcasts through copyright law, media conglomerates build the foundations of the culture industry, which is used to dictate manufactured cultural norms, manipulate public opinion, and sabotage democracy.

- Writers, performers, artists, and entertainers will retain their right to free expression, which is curtailed by copyright as well by restricting their ability to perform or improve other works. The only thing to which a creative person is presently entitled under copyright law which was not created by said law is credit for authorship, and the social consequences for plagiarism still apply, as authenticity can be empirically verified.

Free industry. Free culture. Free society. Abolish I.P. now.

DMEA (1)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743570)

Why don't we call the law/treaty the DMEA "Digital Millenium Enclosures Act".

Re:DMEA (1)

game kid (805301) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743598)

I vote "Dreadfully Massive Excrement Act".

You do realize of course (2)

inode_buddha (576844) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743588)

that this has the potential to nearly *kill* teaching and learning the visual arts in the US and signatories to this treaty, right?

By the way, what if I as an visual artist, specify the copyright terms to be applied to my work posthumously in my will, and publish said will?

Right v. Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38743662)

The Onion gets it right again.... Supreme Court Overturns 'Right v. Wrong' [theonion.com]

A new crappy business model?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38743664)

Can anyone decide to reclaim copyright on their own work that was made public domain? That would be devastating for innovation.

Say I make something, release it as public domain. Can I then later claim copyright and demand royalties from anyone who is currently using it? Sounds like a potential for a legalized extortion scheme. Release something public domain, wait for someone to get successful using it, then demand they pay you an exorbitant fee or cease using it (dooming their company).

Sure, you can already charge fees with copyright but that is expected. Now you can't trust anything that isn't explicitly licensed. Anything public domain would be toxic since every public domain component you use would have the very real risk of destroying your company. If the author randomly decides to claim ownership, he can charge you any amount of money he wants. There's basically no value in anything that is public domain if there is anyone able to claim rights to it.

Re:A new crappy business model?? (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743748)

Voluntarily releasing it into the public domain would probably at the very least constitute an implicit copyright license.

Sounds like more of a ruling on treaties than copy (4, Informative)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 2 years ago | (#38743838)

This extends copyright protection, in the US, to works still under copyright protection abroad and brings the US in line with Berne Treaty; essentially providing the same protection to foreign authors as it does to US. Once those copyrights expire the works will revert to the public domain. SCOTUS appears to leave open the argument that continual extension of copyright would be unconstitutional; in this ruling they said Congress has the right to bring US law inline with treaties and the Constitution's copyright provision does not prevent that. Congress should have done that when they ratified the teary but didn't; and that doesn't prevent them from later doing so.

Corporate Dictatorship. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38743912)

This should go to show you that public opinion means *nothing* in the US. Your president is not elected by popular vote, your laws are not created by popular opinion. Welcome to your corporate dictatorship.

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