Too bad Supreme Court justices can't be fired

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Too bad Supreme Court justices can't be fired

Wed Mar 04, 2009 @ 05:16PM PST

By Eriq Gardner

The Supreme Court has finally accepted a copyright case — the first since Grokster.

Problem is that it is neither the copyright case the entertainment and media industry desperately wants the justices to address — the Cablevision matter — nor is it the copyright case that would cause the industry to be on pins and needles — the Steinbeck case.

Instead, the Supreme Court has been reluctantly dragged back to its 2001 decision in New York Times Co. v. Tasini, which established that publishers must get explicit license from freelancers to re-use works in electronic databases like Lexis-Nexis.

That's right — freelancers. Yawn.

But it gets worse. 

The Court won't be tackling any interesting copyright dispute. No, this one will merely address whether federal courts have the jurisdiction to bless class action settlement agreements involving unregistered works. Settlements like the $18 million agreement in the Tasini case, an agreement that the Supreme Court urged in the first place.

Double yawn.

If the Supreme Court can't hand down a ruling in a case that necessitates a second review, what is it good for? When will they actually do some real work on issues affecting the entertainment and media landscape?

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The Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to

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