Justices Doubt Free Speech Link In Eldred Case

from the and-now-we-wait dept

Wired has a report from the Supreme Court on the Eldred case, mostly just recounting the questions the various justices asked. As is pointed out in the article, though, what questions they ask often have nothing to do with how they decide. Still, it sounds as though the justices are not convinced this is really a First Amendment issue, but many do wonder about Congress’ repeated efforts to extend copyright law, saying that it makes the word “limited” meaningless. Justice Stephen Breyer, though, wonders if finding the extension unconstitutional would cause “chaos”. I’m not sure on what basis he thinks there would be chaos if suddenly a bunch of out of print books (and, oh yeah, Mickey Mouse) suddenly moved into the public domain. I think that “chaos” could be very beneficial to much of society. There’s also an interesting quote from Gary Shapiro of the Consumer Electronics Association who seems to think this case isn’t all that important. He thinks that Congress will cut back on copyright extensions on their own. Update: The Washington Post has more quotes from the Justices, including this one from Justice O’Connor: “I can find a lot of fault with what Congress did. This flies directly in the face of what the framers of the constitution had in mind. But is it unconstitutional?” Update 2: Here’s a personal account of someone who was in the room at the Supreme Court. It has a lot more details on what happened and what was said.

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