Rare Victory in the Copyright Wars

Rare victory for the good guys, that is.

According to this report (Reuters), a federal appeals panel has overturned a federal judge’s injunction that prohibited the publication of a book. The volume in question, “The Wind Done Gone” — a scathing view of “Gone With the Wind” from a slave’s perspective — was protected by the First Amendment, the court ruled.

This is extremely good news for several reasons. The first, of course, is the reaffirmation that prior restraint in publishing is a terrible idea.

The fact that this is even an issue is testament, in part, to Congress’ unconscionable extensions of the copyright term, which I addressed in this recent column. “Gone With the Wind” should have entered the public domain long ago.

Which brings up the other major importance of the appeals court’s ruling. According to Lawrence Lessig, a law professor at Stanford University, today’s decision puts the 11th Circuit squarely in opposition to the District of Columbia Circuit, which ruled in the extremely important Eldred vs. Reno case that copyright law trumped the First Amendment in every case — a horrifying notion that should alarm anyone who cares about free speech.

  • On an unrelated copyright issue, see also this interesting piece from J.D. Lasica.


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