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Court upholds long copyright terms

The D.C. Court of Appeals upheld a law on Friday that extends copyright terms by 20 years, allowing authors to maintain copyrights throughout their lives and 70 years beyond on works created after 1978.

The court ruled that there was no constitutional reason to strike down the law and that Congress has the right to extend copyrights as it sees fit. Plaintiffs challenging the law include parties who publish out-of-print works and do not want to wait longer for access or have to negotiate copyrights.

Copyright holders were pleased with the decision. "The Court of Appeals decision today is a joyous one," said Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Association of America. "It confirms that our nation's creators and copyright owners are deserving of the same level of protection enjoyed by their counterparts in the European Union."

Congress extended copyright terms in 1998, passing a bill known as "The Sonny Bono Act" in homage to the performer and member of Congress who died in a skiing accident earlier that year. - Paige Albiniak