Legal and Community Advocacy/Golan v Holder announcement
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Items of Interest
On January 18, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in the seminal case of Golan v. Holder. Striking a significant blow to the strength and stability of the public domain, the Court upheld a law that took a considerable number of foreign works out of the public domain and placed them back under copyright protection.
This important decision underscores the extent of the power Congress has to decide and control what information is available to the public. Furthermore, this decision demonstrates the reasons we cannot rely on the Court alone to defend our access to knowledge.
In the face of this disappointing news, we are all reminded to speak up when Congress acts against the public good.
Today, we say ‘Enough’ to Congress.
Question & answer 
What is the Golan v. Holder case? 
In 1994, as part of the Uruguay Round Agreements, Congress passed a law in a misguided attempt to reconcile U.S. and foreign copyright by taking works out of the U.S. public domain that were still under copyright in their source country. The case was brought by re-users of the works previously in the public domain: educators, community orchestras, and artists who relied on the freely available works for their own projects and could no longer use those works because of the law.
In a 6-2 decision, the Court in Golan held that the U.S. Constitution does not prevent Congress from “restoring” copyright to works previously in the public domain. Justice Stephen Breyer, in his dissent joined by Justice Samuel Alito, noted that the purpose of copyright is to incentivize authors and artists to create new works, but “[t]he statute before [the Court], however, does not encourage anyone to produce a single new work.”
Why is this case important? 
Today’s decision marks the first time that the Court has ever indicated that Congress not only has the power to extend the life of a copyright, but take works out of the public domain and place them back under copyright protection. Works like Pablo Picasso’s “Guernica,” Sergei Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf,” and J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” have been taken out of the public domain as a result of this law and this decision. This newly declared power that Congress now wields threatens the stability of the public domain and puts those who rely on it at risk.
Why does this matter to Wikipedia or other Wikimedia projects?
Wikimedia projects are some of the largest repositories of public domain material in the world. The projects are a gateway for millions of users to access free knowledge and information that they would never otherwise see. Those repositories shrink as a result of today’s decision.
Where can I find the full decision? 
The full decision can be found at: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/10-545.pdf
However, please note that the Supreme Court’s website seems to be having some problems today and the link above may not be functioning properly.
Wired.com also has the full decision available at: http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/threatlevel/2012/01/golanscotusruling.pdf
I don’t want this to happen again! What can I do to fight SOPA and PIPA? 
Call your Senators and Representative and tell them you oppose SOPA and PIPA. If you need help finding out who your Congressional representatives are, you can simply type in your zip code here.