On 18 January 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Golan v Holder, a key public domain case, questioning whether the US Congress had acted lawfully when restoring copyright to foreign works which had been in the public domain in the US.

In a 6 to 2 decision, the Supreme Court upheld the restoration legislation, affirming Congress’s actions and allowing the United States to avoid questions of compliance with its international treaty obligations. This historic decision is a clear victory for a coalition of international publishers led by the International Publishers Association (IPA) and others.

In August 2011, IPA and five other organizations—the International Federation of Scholarly Publishers (IFSP), the German Publishers Association, the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC), the International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers (STM), and the International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organizations (IFRRO)—had filed an amicus curiae brief in the Golan v Holder case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Peter Givler, Chair of IPA’s Copyright Committee, declares: “On 18 January 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision, which affirms the arguments made in our brief: that in acting to restore copyright in some works that had fallen into the public domain in order to bring the U.S. into full compliance with the terms of the Berne Convention, Congress did not violate the U.S. Constitution and did act appropriately to honor this country’s international treaty obligations. This 6-2 decision is a clear and important victory as it shows that the United States is committed to its international copyright obligations and that it will keep protecting works of the mind”.

Note for Editors

Our successful brief was prepared by Gloria Phares of the New York law firm of Patterson Belknap Webb and Tyler. The decision is 41 pages, and can be read here

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