Peter Yu writes that the Supreme Court, in its decision in Eldred v. Ashcroft cited the need to harmonize the United States copyright law with that if the European Union, which is a reason that the CTEA passed in the first place. He writes that Justice Stephen Breyer in his dissent in the case, writes about how the opposite is true even with the passing of the CTEA. Breyer points out that the US and the EU have different copyright terms for a large number of works including, “works made for hire, pre 1978 works and anonymous and pseudonymous works”. Yu examines sound recordings and writes that in the US sound recordings are deemed works made for hire and are therefore protected for 95 years. However, in the EU, recordings are only protected for 50 years. In the US, if the recording is protected by copyright then it does not matter if it is in the public domain elsewhere and if the recoding is imported to the US, then it is considered piracy. Yu points out that harmonization has been held back due to the background of copyright law in different countries. He writes that European copyright law developed from an authors’ right (droit d’auteur) tradition, which includes personal and economic rights while US copyright law emerged from a utilitarian tradition which emphasizes economic rights over personal rights. The US and Europe also differ on moral rights as Yu writes. In Europe, an author, not a copyright holder, has a right to claim authorship and can prevent the use of the name as the author of any work not created by the author. The author also has the right to prevent any damage to his or her reputation. This protection as Yu notes is not available in the US except in instances of visual arts. Yu writes that the Court in Eldred embraced the idea and need to harmonize US copyright law with other countries’ copyright law but it deferred to Congress and Congress has a strong interest in intellectual property, causing it to grant stronger protection than other countries.
This article that comes from a book that Yu is planning on publishing, helps oppose the reasons behind why Congress passed the CTEA. This is crucial to my argument because it questions the Congress and their desires to pass the CTEA. This article opposes a different argument that Congress made in support of harmonization, which is an argument that I make in my paper in support of the CTEA.
These excerpts of the reasons why Congress extended the copyright term shows that these reasons are consistent with previous copyright extension acts that have been granted. One reason is that Congress recognized a number of public policy reasons for enacting such an act. It points out that Senator Orrin Hatch, pointed out that the reasons for passing the act “paralleled those that led Congress to adopt the life-plus-50 year copyright term in 1976”. These reasons include “harmonizing with the European Union and Strengthening the United States Balance of Payments”. If United States copyright owners used works in Europe, it could only be protected if the US term was similar to that of the EU, which is the author’s life plus 70 years. Therefore this was a reason behind the CTEA. Other reasons include: to encourage investment in existing copyrighted works, fair provisions for authors’ descendants and encouragement for the creation of new works.
The last reason given by Congress to pass CTEA holds important weight in my argument. Petitioners argue that the CTEA does not promote new creation, however, it was in the minds of Congress that the CTEA would indeed promote new creation. One creator in particular, Alan Menken testified that providing for one’s family is important during and after one’s life. If copyright would not help to provide for one’s family for an extended period of time, then a creator like Menken would have to stop creating and find employment elsewhere which would not promote creation of new works but actually inhibit it. This reason helps to argue why the CTEA should be supported rather than opposed. With regard to Mickey Mouse, protecting his creation can help Disney create new stories, images, and several ways of using Mickey Mouse.