ARCHIVED: AALL Joins Amicus Brief Challenging Copyright Term Extension Act

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May 23, 2002

The five major library associations, including AALL, and other interested organizations jointly filed an amicus brief May 20 in a U.S. Supreme Court case challenging the constitutionality of the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act.

In supporting the challenger's case in Eldred v. Ashcroft, the brief asks the Supreme Court to rule that the extended term of protection for copyrighted works is unconstitutional. The brief explains how the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act exceeds the "limited times" of protection authorized by the Constitution's Copyright Clause and how it stifles the public domain by keeping works under almost perpetual copyright protection.

The 1998 Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act extends the copyright term for an additional 20 years. A commercially produced work is now governed by the provisions of copyright law for 95 years. For an individual's work, the term is "life of the author" plus 70 years.

Joining the brief of the American Library Association, American Association of Law Libraries, Association of Research Libraries, Medical Library Association and Special Libraries Association are the following organizations: American Historical Association, Art Libraries Society of North America, Association for Recorded Sound Collections, Council on Library and Information Resources, International Association of Jazz Record Collectors, Midwest Archives Conference, Music Library Association, National Council on Public History, Society for American Music, and Society of American Archivists.

The Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments this fall.

For more information about the amicus brief and the case, please go to Washington Affairs Online at