The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the government in the Eldred v. Ashcroft case. The ruling means that the Congress has the right to extend copyrights under the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act. Corporations such as Disney had heavily lobbied for the act stating that allowing such characters as Mickey Mouse to fall into the public domain would deprive them of hundreds of million dollars of revenue.
While this is considered a big win for large media conglomerates and a slap in the face to the rights of ordinary citizens, I’m less inclined to agree. The majority finding reminds us that there are plenty of fair use protections that protect academic use, parody, and other forms of expression. Furthermore, copyrights are only good if copyright holders are willing to protect them. My guess is that Eldred won’t have such a large effect as a number of older works would cost more to defend from copyright infringement than they receive in profit. It would be more cost-effective for Disney to simply let them go to the public domain than it would to protect them legally.