>From The Chronicle For Higher Education
Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Judge Dismisses Challenge to 4 Laws That Archivists Say Skew Concept of
By ANDREA L. FOSTER
A federal judge has ruled against legal scholars and archivists who
copyright law in hopes of making it easier to archive old literature and
the Internet, where they would be available free to the public.
The case, Kahle v. Ashcroft, pitted two archive groups -- the Internet
a nonprofit digital library, and the Prelinger Archives, which preserves
against the U.S. Justice Department. The archivists argued that four
are collectively keeping people from gaining access to "orphan" works:
out-of-print books, old films, and academic articles that have little or no
The laws that the archivists fault are the Copyright Act of 1976, the Berne
Implementation Act of 1988, the Copyright Renewal Act of 1992, and the Sonny
Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998. A central part of the archivists'
is that laws granting copyright protection to all works, even those for
creators have not sought protection, have radically altered the "traditional
contours of copyright."
But Judge Maxine M. Chesney, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern
of California, disagreed with that claim and dismissed the case without
arguments on it. In an opinion based in part on the U.S. Supreme Court's
in Eldred v. Ashcroft (The Chronicle, January 16, 2003), Judge Chesney wrote
laws that abolished the requirement that works be registered to receive
protection do not "alter the scope of copyright protection, but merely
the procedures necessary to obtain or maintain such protection."
Lawrence Lessig, a prominent expert on law and technology, handled the
for the archivists, along with two other legal scholars. All three are
with Stanford Law School's Center for Internet & Society.
Jennifer S. Granick, executive director of the center, said on Monday that
got it wrong.
"If you have a law that says you don't have to apply for copyright
said Ms. Granick, "that clearly is about scope." The plaintiffs plan to
appeal the ruling.
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