Monday (3/7) on the Wired website, David Kravets writes, “The Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide whether Congress may take works out of the public domain and grant them copyright status. A federal appeals panel, reversing a lower court, ruled in July against a group of orchestra conductors, educators, performers, publishers, film archivists and motion picture distributors who have relied on artistic works in the public domain for their livelihoods. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals set aside arguments that their First Amendment rights were breached because they could no longer exploit the works without paying royalties. For a variety of reasons, the works at issue, which are foreign and were produced decades ago, became part of the public domain in the United States but were still copyrighted overseas. 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. Some of the works at issue include: H.G. Wells’ Things to Come; Fritz Lang’s Metropolis; the musical compilations of Igor Fydorovich Stravinsky.”

Posted March 9, 2011