The U.S. Supreme Court Hears the Mickey Mouse Case
Published in The Advocate, Fall 2002, Vol. 37, No. 1.
The case of Eldred v. Ashcroft, argued before the U. S. Supreme Court on October 9, 2002, is the most important copyright case since 1834, when the court decided its first, Wheaton v. Peters. In Wheaton, the court ruled that under the Copyright Clause of the U.S. Constitution only Congress can grant copyright for published works. In Eldred, the court will decide the scope of Congress’ copyright power. May Congress grant, in the words of the Copyright Clause, copyright only for a "limited time" or may Congress extend the time already granted for existing copyrights? This is what Congress did in the Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA), extending the term for all copyrights, present and future, for 20 years.