U.S. Supreme Court
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How the Loss of Justice Ginsburg Impacts Music Creators
On Sept. 18, the music community lost a huge advocate in Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Aside from her years of work as a trailblazer for equality and nearly three decades on the Supreme Court of the United States, RBG was known as a pro-copyright jurist who routinely found herself aligned with music creators.
Justice Ginsburg wrote the majority opinions for the landmark Eldred v. Ashcroft decision, which upheld the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act and extended the duration of copyright terms by twenty years, and the Golan v. Holder decision, which protected foreign works under the U.S. copyright law. Some of the biggest names in music, from Janet Jackson to Barbra Streisand, took to social media to honor her service this country.
But as the music world mourns the loss of one of its greatest champions, it also looks ahead to how the Supreme Court's makeup will impact critical copyright legislation affecting the music makers and copyright holders RBG fought for during her career.
For instance, the now-eight-member Supreme Court will have the opportunity to affirm or redefine their stance on copyright law soon with the upcoming Google LLC. V. Oracle America Inc. case, which could significantly alter the modern treatment of copyright and reverberate beyond the software world into music and other copyright industries. With so much riding on their decision, many lawyers are referring to this as the copyright case of the century.
"It will set a crucial precedent for the future of copyright law and the United States' economy in the digital age by either protecting IP from systematic domestic and foreign copying or offering these cases legal protection," wrote former Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Bob Goodlatte in a recent op-ed. "The United States cannot afford to change its laws to accommodate one tech giant at the expense of innovation and economic growth in the digital age. Here's hoping the Supreme Court recognizes what is at stake and stands up for the future of technological innovation."
The case is set for argument on Oct. 7, 2020. Meanwhile, on Saturday, President Trump formally nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to serve as Justice Ginsburg’s successor. If confirmed by the Senate in a quick fashion, then-Justice Barrett may further alter the high court’s view on intellectual property for decades.