The Supreme Court voted 7-2 to uphold the Sonny Bono Law that extends all copyright terms by twenty years. Numerous works that should today be in the public domain will instead be buried, under threat of litigation, for two decades. The true danger, of course, is that in twenty years we’ll see another extension once again dictated by wealthy media companies. As Justice Bryer stated in his dissent:
It is easy to understand how the statute might benefit the private financial
interests of corporations or heirs who own existing copyrights. But I cannot
find any constitutionally legitimate, copyright-related way in which the
statute will benefit the public. Indeed, in respect to existing works, the
serious public harm and the virtually nonexistent public benefit could not be
Further discussion can be found at Lawrence Lessig’s blog and Declan McCullagh’s Politech. The full text of Breyer’s dissent is also available, as are the texts of Stevens’ dissent and the majority opinion.