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O P E N L A W: Eldred v. Ashcroft

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* Eldred v. Ashcroft
     Legal filings
Copyright's Commons

Cert Granted: The Supreme Court will hear Eldred v. Ashcroft in its fall term.

For background on the case, please visit the Openlaw / Eldred v. Ashcroft homepage. You may also want to visit lead plaintiff Eric Eldred's Eldritch Press and an article from the Boston Globe Magazine.

L E G A L   D O C U M E N T S
Supreme Court Docket

Supreme Court Opening Briefs Filed May 20, 2002:

  • Brief for Petitioners: Eric Eldred, Eldritch Press, Higginson Book Company, Jill A. Crandall, Tri-Horn International, Luck's Music Library, Inc., Edwin F. Kalmus & Co., Inc., American Film Heritage Association, Moviecraft, Inc., and Dover Publications, Inc.

    By Lawrence Lessig, Kathleen M. Sullivan, Alan B. Morrison, Edward Lee, Charles Nesson, Jonathan L. Zittrain, William W. Fisher, Charles Fried, Geoffrey Stewart, Donald Ayer, Robert Ducatman, and Daniel Bromberg

  • We have the support of numerous amici ("friends of the court"):

Supreme Court Briefs in Opposition:

Reply Brief for the Petitioners, September 4, 2002

Oral Argument before the United States Supreme Court is scheduled for October 9, 2002.

Supreme Court Grants Certiorari, February 19, 2002
The Supreme Court has announced it will hear our challenge to the Copyright Term Extension Act.

Petition for Certiorari: En banc rehearing: Appeal:
  • DC Circuit Decision - On February 16, 2001, the DC Circuit issued a 2-1 decision, rejecting our claims in Eldred v. Reno. The majority decision is available in full here, or you may prefer this summary. A spirited dissent from Judge Sentelle agrees with our contention that the CTEA is unconstitutional.

  • Appellants' Opening Brief - On May 22, 2000, Copyright's Commons joined Eric Eldred in filing this brief to appeal the District Court's decision against us.

  • Government Response Brief - In July, the government responded by filing this brief with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

  • Appellants' Final Brief - We then filed a final corrected brief with the Court of Appeals on August 7, 2000.
Amicus Briefs
  • On June 6, the Eagle Forum filed this amicus brief in support of Eric Eldred and Copyright's Commons.

  • On July 21, the Sherwood Anderson Foundation, Motion Picture Association of America, Recording Industry of America and Association of American Publishers (among others) filed this amicus brief in support of the government.

District Court Opinion:

On October 28, 1999, Judge June Green granted summary judgment to the government in a brief opinion dismissing the plaintiffs' arguments.

1) that the Copyright Term Extension Act does not violate the First Amendment because there is no First Amendment right to use the copyrighted works of others;

2) that the retrospective extension of the Act is within Congress's power under the Copyright Clause of the Constitution because the "limited times" period is subject to the discretion of Congress and an author may agree in advance to transfer any future benefit Congress might confer; and

3) that the Act does not violate the public trust doctrine because that doctrine applies only to navigable waters.

  • First Amended Complaint - Plaintiffs file amended complaint to reflect the addition of additional parties to the suit (including Copyright's Commons). Filed 5/10/99
  • Complaint - Plaintiffs file complaint in D.C. District Court against Janet Reno in her official capacity, challenging the constitutionality of the Copyright Term Extension Act. Filed 1/11/99
Government's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings - The government files a motion for judgment on the pleadings. With this motion, the government asks the court to decide the case without further arguments from either side. Filed 6/25/99

Amicus Brief
- A group of amici file a brief in support of the government's position. Filed 6/28/99

Plaintiff's Response to the Gov’ts Motion for
Judgment on the Pleadings and
Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment
- Plaintiffs file a response to the government's motion of for judgment on the pleadings and cross-motion for summary judgment. With this motion, the plaintiffs argue that the law requires a judgment in their favor. Filed 7/23/99

     Affidavit of Hal R. Varian  [PDF]
     Extraordinary thanks

Government’s Response to Plaintiff’s
Summary Judgment and Reply on its
Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings
- The government files a response to the plaintiff's motion for summary judmgent and a reply on its motion for judgment on the pleadings. Filed 8/23/99 [PDF]

Amicus Brief
- Another amicus brief is filed in support of the government's position. Filed 8/23/99 [PDF]

Plaintiffs’ Reply
- Plaintiffs reply in support of their motion for judgment on the pleadings or in the alternative for summary judgment. Filed 9/10/99 [PDF]