Siva Vaidhyanathan, well known for his views on copyrights, has written a great piece in Salon, which tries to look on the bright side of the Supreme Court decision in the Eldred case, which said that Congress's perpetual extension of copyright was constitutional. First, he points out that the Supreme Court made it clear that "fair use" rights are important. This statement may come back to haunt Hollywood down the road, as they work with Congress to erode fair use rights. More importantly, though, Vaidhyanathan argues that this has now shifted the argument to Congress. It's no longer an issue for the courts to decide, but an issue of policy. Policy, of course, can be influenced - and thanks to this case (and a few other events), the public is much more aware of the issues and much more likely to make quite a stink about it with their elected representatives. As he points out, when the last copyright extension act past, people didn't own TiVos or CD burners. But, times are changing. If anything (hopefully) this defeat galvanizes more people to work to effect change through elected representatives. The cynical will point out, of course, that corporations like Disney still have more pull in DC, but there is a limit to how far they can go when millions are screaming in protest. The more people point out that current copyright extensions do much more to harm creativity than to help it, the more likely that someone in Congress will take the populist stand, and fight the content cartel.
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