September 24, 2004

A Victory for “Limited Times”

A United States District Judge in New York struck down the 1994 anti-bootlegging statute because it grants an effectively perpetual copyright. Nothing else seems to be available yet, even on PACER.

This is great news, and I’d sort of been waiting for this to happen. The statute pretty clearly establishes a perpetual copyright. In the last notable criminal bootlegging case, United States v. Moghadam (11th Cir. 1999), the court went through some pretty deep constitutional analysis, holding that the statute was enacted under the commerce clause and rejecting Moghadam’s appeal that the statute is invalid because it is inconsistent with the Copyright Clause’s fixation requirement. Moghadam failed to raise the “limited times” issue, so the court could not invalidate the law on these grounds, though it seemed inclined to do so.

More to come once I can get my hands on the Judge’s order.

Via Copyfight.

UPDATE: Larry posted the judge’s order. His PDF file was 64MB in size, which seemed excessive for an 18-page monochrome document; here’s a 500K PDF of the decision. (To view it, you’ll need a recent version of Acrobat Reader; it seems it doesn’t work in, for example, OSX’s “preview” program because it’s using a newer image compression algorithm.)

Disclaimer Haiku:
West wind seems to say,
"This is not legal advice;
I'm not your lawyer."

(And if you're a client with whom I have a preexisting attorney-client relationship, this still isn't legal advice.)

In case you're wondering, this blog is also not intended as advertising, as a representation of anything but my personal opinion, or as an offer of representation.

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