t byfield on Mon, 15 Apr 2002 18:41:28 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> ABA back away from 95-year corporate copyright term

it's not so often these days that something good happens in
the realm of intellectual property, but this is good. not a
huge substantive victory: it's just the american bar associ-
ation, and it's an omission (failing to endorse an argument) 
not a commission (actively opposing that argument). however,
it does suggest that more and more people are getting antsy
about IP claimants' overreaching.


----- Forwarded 

From: "James Love" <james.love@cptech.org>
To: <info-policy-notes@lists.essential.org>
Subject: [IPN] ABA board of governors declines to endorse 95 year corporate copyright term
Date: Sun, 14 Apr 2002 21:39:27 -0400

Sometimes in life you are happy when nothing happens.  The ABA met today
in Chicago to decide if it would adopt a policy in support of the 95
year term for corporate copyrights, and file an amicus brief in support
of the Sony Bono copyright extention act.    ABA IP Section had pushed
hard for this, and the ABA Executive board had reportedly unanimously
recommended adoption of the policy and the filing of the brief.   CPTech
(and others) asked the ABA board of governors to reject this policy, and
not file the brief.  The ABA just wrote to say:  "the Board of Governors
of the ABA declined to adopt policy on this issue earlier today at its
meeting in Chicago.  Therefore, no amicus brief will be filed."   We are
quite pleased....  Jamie

<----CPTech's April 12 letter to the ABA Board of Governors-->

To:  Board of Governors
         American Bar Association
         Attention of Alpha Brady:
         via fax: 1 312 988 5153

Re:  ABA resolution on Copyright Term Extension Act

From:     James Love
             Director, Consumer Project on Technology

Date:     12 April 2002

This is a brief note to express our views on the
proposed resolution that would have the ABA endorse the
notion that "the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998
(P.L. 105-298) does not violate, and is fully in
accordance with, the Copyright Clause and the First
Amendment of the United States Constitution."
It should be obvious that this act is not only
controversial, but also widely perceived as a textbook
example of the consequences of corrupt influences from
our system of special interest funding of federal
elections.   The Washington Post August 17, 2002
editorial condemning the act was titled " Copyright
Craziness," and noted:

     This degree of protection -- under which works
     from 1923 are still owned privately -- does little
     to promote science or art, but it does protect
     copyright holders who make big campaign
     contributions. Unfortunately, it also serves to
     keep material out of the public domain long after
     the public's interest in its free exchange
     outweighs any value served by continued protection

The February 21, 1998 editorial by the New York Times said:

     But no matter how the supporters of this bill
     frame their arguments, they have only one thing in
     mind:  continuing to profit from copyright by
     changing the agreement under which it was obtained
     . . . There is no justification for extending the
     copyright term.

Groups as diverse as the Cato Institute, the American
Library Association and the President of the National
Writers Union have denounced this act, which provided a
retroactive extension of corporate owned work-for-hire
copyrights to 95 years.

The Supreme Court will be considering two important legal
issues, including the relationship between the first
amendment and copyright, and the constitutional basis for
extending copyright terms.  In the end, this is a case about
what limits if any exist on endless extensions of the
copyright terms, in areas where there can be no moral or
economic justification for the monopoly.    Who can even
pretend to claim that a corporate term of 75 years is an
insufficient incentive for creators?  This act is plainly
understood as special pleading for copyright owners, and as
contrary to the interests of creators, who themselves are
users of such works.    And if 95 years is endorsed by the
ABA, is there really any basis to say that a term of 1,000
years would not be possible?

There is no reason for the ABA to jump into this debate at
this point, and certainly no reason to endorse the 95-year
work for hire copyright term, and indeed, the reputation of
the ABA will be harmed greatly if it adopts the proposed


Copyright Craziness, Washington Post Editorial, August 17, 2001; Page

Keeping Copyright in Balance, Editorial in the
New York Times, February 21, 1998

Why Disney Has Clout  with the Republican
Congress, Phyllis Schlafly column 11-25-98

James Love, mailto:james.love@cptech.org, http://www.cptech.org
voice +1.202.387.8030, mobile +1.202.361.3040, fax +

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