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Supreme Court To Consider First Amendment Rights Of Conductors In Recopyright Case

Publication Date: 
March 08, 2011
ABA Journal
Debra Cassens Weiss

Stanford's Fair Use Project is mentioned in the following ABA Journal article on the case of Golan v. Holder, which addresses the copyright protections of foreigh works that have been removed from the public domain. Debra Cassens Weiss reports:

A Denver music conductor who wants his orchestras to perform foreign works that were once in the public domain is getting a hearing before the U.S. Supreme Court.

University of Denver music professor Lawrence Golan conducts several small orchestras, and he says it’s too expensive to perform foreign compositions that were taken out of the public domain and placed under copyright protection, the Denver Post reports. He has joined with other plaintiffs to challenge a 1994 recopyright law that removed thousands of foreign works from the public domain and gave them copyright protection. The law was enacted to help the United States comply with international treaties protecting the copyrights of American works.

Works taken out of the public domain include compositions by Sergei Prokofiev, Dmitri Shostakovich and Igor Stravinsky; films by Alfred Hitchcock and Federico Fellini; and books by C.S. Lewis, Virginia Woolf and H.G. Wells, according to a press release.

Besides Golan, the plaintiffs include educators, performers, film archivists and motion picture distributors, according to the cert petition (PDF). They are represented by lawyers from Stanford Law School’s Fair Use Project and from Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell.