Sunday, April 28, 2013

Eldred v. Ashcroft case brief

Eldred v. Ashcroft case brief summary
537 U.S. 186

CASE SYNOPSIS: Petitioners, individuals and businesses, sued respondent United States Attorney General, challenging the constitutionality of the Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA) under the First Amendment and the Copyright and Patent Clause (Copyright Clause), U.S. Const. art. I, § 8, cl. 8. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld the CTEA. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

FACTS: Under the CTEA, Congress enlarged the duration of copyrights by 20 years in order to, inter alia, harmonize the baseline United States copyright term with the term adopted by the European Union. Petitioners argued that the CTEA violated the "limited times" prescription of the Copyright Clause. As to the First Amendment, petitioners contended that the CTEA was a content-neutral regulation of speech that failed inspection under the heightened judicial scrutiny appropriate for such regulations.

The Court determined that the CTEA was constitutional. The CTEA's extension of existing copyrights did not exceed Congress' power under the Copyright Clause.

The Court rejected petitioners' arguments that (1) the extension was a congressional attempt to evade or override the "limited times" constraint, (2) Congress could not extend an existing copyright absent new consideration from the author, and (3) the extensions should have been subject to heightened judicial review. The Court also rejected petitioners' argument that the CTEA violated the First Amendment.

CONCLUSION: The Court affirmed the judgment.

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