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U.S. Supreme Court Grants Review in Landmark Fair Use Case


The U.S. Supreme Court Monday granted certiorari in Golan v. Holder, a landmark Fair Use case that will determine whether Congress can take works out of the public domain and grant them copyright status.

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in July took the unprecedented step of restoring copyright protection to significant artistic works which had long been in the public domain. The case concerns Section 514 of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act. Ruling against a group of orchestra conductors, educators, performers, publishers, film archivists and motion picture distributors, the Tenth Circuit rejected the claim that this law violates the First Amendment.

Keker & Van Nest partners Steven Hirsch and R. James Slaughter represented the Conductors Guild, amicus curiae in the case. In their amicus brief, the Keker & Van Nest attorneys argued that permitting Section 514 to remove from the public domain many landmark works of twentieth century music imposes a tremendous financial burden on local and regional music organizations. (To see the brief in its entirety, please click on the above pdf.)

“Perhaps more important,” the brief states, “it also risks preventing a new generation of performers and music lovers from experiencing a transformative period in musical innovation—works by Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Shostakovich, and others.”

Lead attorney and chair of Keker & Van Nest's appellate practice Mr. Hirsch helps clients reframe and develop their cases for success in the federal and state appellate courts. That process can begin long before any appeal is filed, with dispositive trial-court motions and significant motions in limine, or during the post-trial motion phase, when issues are being teed up for appeal.

Mr. Slaughter has extensive experience in complex civil and white collar criminal matters. He has successfully represented companies and individuals in breach of contract, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, trade secret, copyright, trademark and right of publicity cases. He has also represented individuals in matters with the Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Justice, and numerous national law firms in professional negligence cases.