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Moot Court Finals April 26—Can Congress Restore Copyright Protection After It Has Expired?

The question of whether Congress has the constitutional power to restore copyright protection for a creative work that has already entered the public domain will be considered on Tuesday, April 26, at the Thurman Arnold Prize Finals of the Morris Tyler Moot Court of Appeals. Four students will compete in the competition, which begins at 4:30 p.m. in the Yale Law School auditorium. Doors open at 4 p.m. A reception will follow in the Alumni Reading Room. The event is open to the Yale Law School community and invited guests.

The Honorable Judge Marsha Berzon and the Honorable Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the Honorable Judge Raymond J. Lohier, Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit will hear the case Golan v. Holder, which comes before the Supreme Court next term. At issue is whether Congress has the constitutional power to restore copyright protection for a creative work once the work has entered the public domain. Petitioners, artists, and others who rely on artistic works in the public domain for their livelihoods argue that Congress lacks this authority and that the Uruguay Round Agreements Act, which provides copyright protection for certain of these works, violates their First Amendment rights.

The questions presented are:

1) Does the Progress Clause of the United States Constitution, Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8, prohibit Congress from taking works out of the public domain?

2) Does Section 514 of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act violate the First Amendment of the United States Constitution?

“We look forward to welcoming a distinguished panel of federal appellate judges to hear oral arguments by our four talented finalists,” said Moot Court co-chair Tanya Abrams ’11. “The case addresses two fascinating constitutional issues—the copyright power and the First Amendment—and we expect challenging questions and an engaging exchange.”

Michael Drezner ’12 and Chris Suarez ’11 will argue for the petitioner, Lawrence Golan. Arpit Garg ’12 and Daniel Winik ’11 will represent the respondent, Attorney General Eric Holder. The competitors’ briefs will be posted on the Moot Court website approximately one week before the date of the oral argument.

The Morris Tyler Moot Court competition takes place each semester at Yale Law School, culminating in the Harlan Fiske Stone Prize Finals in the fall and the Thurman Arnold Prize Finals in the spring. All second- and third-year law students are eligible to participate.