Intellectual Property

Sony Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998

Type: Brief
Year: 2001

The Clinic submitted two amicus briefs on behalf of the Internet Archive, the Prelinger Archive and Project Gutenberg supporting petitioner Eric Eldred’s challenge to the Sony Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998, arguing that retroactively extending copyrights defeats the intellectual property clause’s purpose in incentivizing new creative works. The first brief requested that certiorari be granted and the second brief requested that the Appellate and District Court decisions be overturned. The Supreme Court handed down its decision in Eldred v. Ashcroft on January 15, 2003. The court held that the 20 year extension of copyright terms was within Congress’ discretion under the Constitution. Justices Breyer and Stephens dissented, with Breyer writing, “…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 more clear.” Breyer, J., dissenting, at 26.