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Supreme Court rules Congress May Copyright Public Domain Works
January 19, 2012
Congress did not act unconstitutionally when it extended copyright protection to millions of foreign music and literary works that previously were in America’s public domain, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.
In a 6-2 decision emphasizing Congress’ authority over the contours of copyright law, the justices rejected a claim by orchestra conductors, musicians, publishers and others who objected to a 1994 law that required them to start paying royalties for such symphony favorites as Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf.
The conductors and performers had challenged the federal law that brought the United States into compliance with an international treaty protecting literary and artistic works.
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