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Federal Judge Strikes Part Of Copyright Act

Publication Date: 
April 06, 2009
Daily Journal
Craig Anderson 

Lecturer in Law and Executive Director of the Fair Use Project Anthony Falzone is quoted and Professor Lawrence Lessig is noted in a Daily Journal article about a ruling by a federal judge that a provision of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act is unconstitutional:

Congress violated the First Amendment rights of people who used artistic works that had fallen into the public domain by passing a law restoring copyright protections for foreign authors of those creations, a U.S. judge has ruled.


The ruling was a major victory for attorneys led by Stanford Law School professors Anthony Falzone and Lawrence Lessig, who argued the law violates the rights of individuals who used works that became part of the public domain because their copyrights were not renewed. "People who used these works while they were in the public domain have the First Amendment right to keep using them," Falzone said.


Stanford University's Fair Use Project at the Center for Internet and Society, led by Lessig and now Falzone, has advocated for allowing artistic works to pass into the public domain with fewer restrictions and in less time. But they have had a difficult time persuading governments or the courts.

The Stanford plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in 2001 challenging the validity of Section 514 of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act, which restores U.S. copyrights of foreign authors who lost those rights to the public domain unless the copyright expired.