Last Tuesday, something fantastic happened. The U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals gave the First Amendment some oomph in Golan v. Gonzales. The case, brought by Larry Lessig and lawyers with the Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society, challenged section 514 of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act, or URAA, which removed thousands of books, films and musical compositions from the public domain. The 10th Circuit held that, following the Supreme Court case of Eldred v. Ashcroft, if Congress changes copyright's "traditional contours," courts must conduct a First Amendment review to ensure that those changes do not overly burden free expression in an unjustified manner. Removing works from the public domain is one such traditional contour, so the court sent the Golan case back to the District Court to determine whether the URAA goes too far in burdening speech. Creators need established speech rights in a digital world where every transmission is a copy and also everyone can be an artist. For now, the First Amendment is alive and well in the 10th Circuit.
I wrote about this case, which I was involved in when I was Executive Director of CIS, for this week's Wired News column. You can read the full column here.
We here at the EFF extend a hearty congratulations to the Golan team, lawyers, clients, students and to other supporters of a constitutionally balanced copyright law.