Eldred v. Ashcroft

Citation: 537 U.S. 186
Docket Number: 01-618
Judge: Ginsburg
Opinion Date: January 15, 2003

Petitioners, whose products or services build on copyrighted works that have gone into the public domain, brought this suit seeking a determination that the Copyright Term Extension Act (CETA) fails constitutional review under both the Copyright Clause’s “limited Times” prescription and the First Amendment’s free speech guarantee. The District Court held that the CTEA does not violate the Copyright Clause’s “limited times” restriction because the CTEA’s terms, though longer than the 1976 Act’s terms, are still limited, not perpetual, and therefore fit within Congress’ discretion. The court also held that there are no First Amendment rights to use the copyrighted works of others. The Circuit Court affirmed. The Supreme Court upheld the Circuit Court’s decision that placing existing and future copyrights in parity in the CTEA, Congress acted within its authority and did not transgress constitutional limitations.

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