Innovation Asset Blog

Supreme Court ruling supports IP protection for public domain works

In a 6-2 decision, the Supreme Court has upheld an earlier ruling that will effectively allow intellectual property protections to be applied to works that were previously classified as part of the public domain.

The crux of the case, according to Patently-O, surrounded a congressional maneuver to recall millions of foreign-authored books, musical compositions and artistic creations that slipped into the public domain as a result of administrative oversights. The strategy was intended to bring the United States into compliance with global IP treaties and afford copyright protection to original composers.

This verdict has not been well received among artists and educators, according to CNN, with many suggesting that the ruling would make important cultural initiatives prohibitively expensive and thus limit freedom of speech.

"Neither congressional practice nor our decisions treat the public domain, in any and all cases, as untouchable by copyright legislation," Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg explained in the court opinion, adding that claims of unconstitutional abridgement of speech were unfounded.

Large media and publishing companies are expected to be the primary beneficiaries of this decision, according to CNN, as the ruling will likely promote reciprocity among foreign markets and facilitate the delivery of American creative works around the world.

Peter Ackerman

Peter Ackerman

Founder & CEO, Innovation Asset Group, Inc.