Sonny Bono — singer, Congressman,
and protector of small-time artists.
The Ninth Circuit just blunted an attack on the automatic extension of copyright protection for works that someone created between 1964 and 1977. The court thus refused to strike down — you guessed it — the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998. Kahle v. Gonzalez, No. 04-17434 (9th Cir. Jan. 22, 2007). The decision, which enforces a not-very-old Supreme Court ruling, Elrod v. Ashcroft (2003), will further deter compilation of works for republication on the Internet. View the Ninth Circuit opinion here.
The Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act eliminates the application requirement for renewal of copyright protection after the original term ends. The Act especially affects low-value works, whose owners have little incentive to bear the cost of renewing.
Many Blawgletter readers no doubt remember Mr. Bono’s not-very-great musical career after his split with Cher (look here for a pre-divorce performance), and the less charitable among them may want to take ironic satisfaction in knowing that Mr. Bono sponsored legislation that mainly benefits hack artists. But the Act, which became law after Mr. Bono’s death in a skiing accident, applied only to his pre-breakup songs. So there.