It’s no secret that I love Washington, DC.
It’s not just the restaurants and bars and wild happy hours. It’s the intellectual stuff too. Today I get to go to both a major Supreme Court argument and an epic conference of ideas.
This morning, I plan to attend the Supreme Court argument in Golan v. Holder, a major case involving Congress’s power over copyrights and its limits. The issue: whether Congress can pull works out of the public domain without violating the “Limited Times” language of the Copyright Clause or the “freedom of speech” language in the First Amendment. I’ve been interested in this issue since before I wrote my law school article on copyright duration for my school’s journal of law & technology. For this case, I joined others affiliated with Yale’s Information Society Project in filing an amicus brief in the case. I worked primarily on the First Amendment arguments in that brief. (I argue that intermediate scrutiny is not the right standard.)
Tony Falzone, of Stanford, will argue the case for users of works that were in the public domain but are no longer–including works by Igor Stravinsky. Tony, whom I know from my summers at Stanford and from general admiration and envy, is a great lawyer and a great guy. So is Don Verrilli, the Solicitor General who will argue the case for the government. Careful readers of this blog (hi Mom) know my high regard for Don.
For a tech policy nerd like me, watching Tony and Don argue about copyright duration is like getting the chance to watch Ali and Frazier in their greatest fight.
After the Supreme Court, I am heading over to the Newsuem for The Atlantic’s Washington Ideas Forum. The speakers include White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, White House advisor Valerie Jarrett, and former VP Dick Cheney. It’s like the All-Madden team of influence. Thanks to the incomparable Steve Clemons for inviting me to watch.
UPDATE: Tony was amazing in his first argument. Very impressive. Don also did a great job, and received more aggressive questioning than I expected. The questioning came from Justices Breyer and all the conservatives who spoke: Justices Alito, Scalia, and the Chief Justice.