Art Law Report

Golan v. Holder—Foreign Works in Public Domain Back Under Copyright

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on March 7, 2012 at 8:57 AM

The Art and Museum Law Group issued today a client advisory on the implications of Golan v. Holder.

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld in Golan v. Holder the constitutionality of a U.S. statute (§ 514 of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)) that “restored” U.S. copyright protection to millions of foreign-authored works that, for much of the twentieth century, had none at all. The Court found no constitutional bar to making foreign works that once were free of copyright protection now subject to the full regime of rights. The decision raises far-reaching implications for anyone who has copied, sold, or otherwise published foreign works of the 20th century that were assumed to be in the public domain, and raises anew the importance of considering the various layers of copyright protection that follow a single work.

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Topics: Uruguay Round Agreements Act of the World Trade Or, WTO, Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual, Public Domain, Foreign Works, Copyright, Golan v. Holder, intellectual property, TRIPS

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