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Issues - Copyright

Shrinking the Public Domain: the Supreme Court Revisits Copyright Law
(October 24, 2011) - The October 5 oral argument in Golan v. Holder gave few clues to the outcome of the case, except that it will not be unanimous.

Silencing Music Through Copyright Law
(Sept. 12, 2009) - Music scholar Liane Curtis describes how overzealous copyright control and timorous publishers have suppressed the brilliant music of the little-known composer Rebecca Clarke.

Blanche DuBois Meets the Copyright Cops
(September 22, 2008) - Can the holder of the copyright in “A Streetcar Named Desire” stop a creative artist from impersonating Blanche DuBois, the fragile, self-deluding southern belle in Tennessee Williams’s classic play?

Victory for "First Sale" Rule in the Case of Promotional CDs
(June 18, 2008) - A judge has ruled that music companies can't stop the trade in promo CDs.

FEPP's Slide Show of Controversial and Censored Art
(May 2008) - From the erotic frescos of Pompeii to today's battles over fair use - an entertaining and informative history of censored images.

The Harry Potter Lexicon Goes to Court
(March 8, 2008) - J.K. Rowling claims copyright infringement while the Lexicon publisher argues fair use. A federal judge will soon decide.

The Rest is Noise
(December 22, 2007) -Alex Ross's much-admired new book raises tantalizing questions about music, politics, and censorship (and fair use).

Can Music Companies Circumvent the "First Sale" Rule?
(October 8, 2007) - A music company is suing to stop an eBay entrepreneur from selling "promo CDs" - even though the first sale rule prevents copyright owners from restricting the future distribution of their works.

Intellectual Property and Free Speech in the Online World
(January 2007) - A new report from the Fair Use Network surveys how online service providers are coping with cease and desist letters and takedown notices.

"Reclaiming the First Amendment"
(Jan. 22, 2007) - A conference sponsored by the Brennan Center and Hofstra Law School explored the viability of a "right of access" along with other reforms that might help democratize the mass media.

The Perils of Filtering in a post-Grokster World
(November 3, 2006) - On remand from the Supreme Court's decision condemning file-sharing networks, a judge dangerously relies on overbroad copyright filters.

You Can Play Fantasy Baseball, But Can You Google It?
(August 16, 2006) - Two current "intellectual property" disputes threaten our favorite sit-down sports.

Movie Censors Are Also Copyright Infringers
(July 11, 2006) - A federal court has ruled against the fair use arguments of CleanFlicks and fellow sanitizers.

The Joyce Saga: Literary Heirs & Copyright Abuse
(June 15, 2006) - A new lawsuit challenges Stephen Joyce's efforts to control what is said about the Joyce family and the literary works of his famous grandfather.

A Big Step on "Orphan Works"
(February 9, 2006) - The U.S. Copyright Office is recommending new legislation to encourage distribution and use of works often hidden from public view.

Will Fair Use Survive? Free Expression in the Age of Copyright Control
(December 2005) - The product of more than a year of research - including many firsthand stories from artists, scholars, bloggers, and others - Will Fair Use Survive? paints a striking picture of an intellectual property system that is perilously out of balance.

Two Defeats - and a Silver Lining
(June 28, 2005) - The Supreme Court's Grokster and Brand X decisions may be disappointing, but file-sharing technology survives, and the campaign for media democracy goes on.

A Tone-Deaf Approach to Music Sampling
(June 3, 2005) - The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has again ruled that the "de minimis" rule doesn't apply to sound recordings.

Sanitizing Movies
(April 19, 2005) - The "Family Movie Act" (which was passed into law shortly after this testimony was given) singles out filmmakers for lesser copyright protection in order to encourage the movie-censoring industry.

Understanding Grokster
(March 28, 2005) - The Supreme Court hears argument on March 29 in the hottest case of its term - the entertainment industry's suit to stop peer-to-peer technology. What are the legal issues, and the stakes for online communication?

Friend of the Court Brief Challenges Laws That Shrink the Public Domain
(January 28, 2005) - The Brennan Center and other groups are urging the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to recognize that laws eliminating copyright "formalities" harm free expression by starving the public domain.

Brennan Center and EFF Urge Court of Appeals to Recognize the Importance of "Sampling"
(January 21, 2005) - Our friend-of-the-court brief argues that the "de minimis" rule protecting small amounts of copying is important to artistic creation.

The Information Commons
(June 2004) - In the face of dramatic media consolidation and new laws that increase corporate copyright control, the emerging information commons offers new ways for producing and sharing information, creative works, and democratic discussion. FEPP's policy report describes the growing movement for democratic alternatives to for-profit control of information and ideas.

"The Progress of Science & Useful Arts": Why Copyright Today Threatens Intellectual Freedom
(2003) - Music swapping -- encryption -- the frozen public domain -- where should we draw the line between rewarding creativity through the copyright system and society’s competing interest in the free flow of ideas? FEPP's policy report covers "fair use," copyright term extension, the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, and more - without legalese.

For More Materials on Copyright in 2001-04, go to the Archives Page.


The Free Expression Policy Project began in 2000 as a project of the National Coalition Against Censorship, to provide empirical research and policy development on tough censorship issues and seek free speech-friendly solutions to the concerns that drive censorship campaigns. In 2004-2007, it was part of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. Past funders have included the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Educational Foundation of America, the Open Society Institute, and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

All material on this site is covered by a Creative Commons "Attribution - No Derivs - NonCommercial" license. (See You may copy it in its entirely as long as you credit the Free Expression Policy Project and provide a link to the Project's Web site. You may not edit or revise it, or copy portions, without permission (except, of course, for fair use). Please let us know if you reprint!