Golan v. Holder

Docket Number: 10-545
Judge: Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Opinion Date: January 18, 2012

Petitioners are orchestra conductors, musicians, publishers, and others who formerly enjoyed free access to literary and artistic works section 514 of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA), 17 U.S.C. 104A, 109(a), removed from the public domain. Petitioners maintained that Congress, in passing section 514, exceeded its authority under the Constitution’s Copyright and Patent Clause and violated the First Amendment rights of anyone who previously had access to such works. The Tenth Circuit ruled that section 514 was narrowly tailored to fit the important government aim of protecting U.S. copyright holders’ interests abroad. In accord with the judgment of the Tenth Circuit, the Court concluded that section 514 did not transgress constitutional limitations on Congress’ authority. The Court held that neither the text of the Copyright and Patent Clause, historical practice, or the Court’s precedent excluded application of copyright protection to works in the public domain. The Court also held that nothing in the historical record, subsequent congressional practice, or the Court’s jurisprudence warranted exceptional First Amendment solicitude for copyrighted works that were once in the public domain. View “Golan v. Holder” on Justia Law