February 11, 2007  ·  Lessig

You’ll recall Shloss v. Sweeney, the fair use challenge brought by the Stanford Center for Internet and Society’s “Fair Use Project” last June, on behalf of Carol Shloss, a Joyce scholar at Stanford. The case challenges the abuse of copyright by the Joyce Estate, interfering with the academic work of Joycean scholars. (The story of that abuse is recounted in this fantastic piece in the New Yorker.)

On Friday, we passed an important hurdle. The district court has denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss. The decision was quick, and is very well and completely reasoned. Judge Ware did permit the estate to strike a paragraph from the complaint (we were probably getting wordy in any case). But every element of our complaint remains — including, importantly, the copyright misuse claim.

Most of the work in the case has been handled by Stanford CIS Fellow David Olson. Since joining CIS to head the “Fair Use Project,” Tony Falzone has also become a key player in the case. Tony argued the case before Judge Ware. We’ve also had great support from a Joyce scholar, and lawyer with Howard Rice, Robert Spoo, as well as the firm of Keker & Van Nest. These attorneys, and the others at CIS (including many extraordinary students) deserve a great deal of thanks.

It is rare for the press to talk about issues in the copyright beyond “piracy.” The New Yorker piece is a nice exception. My hope is more cases like this will lead people to recognize the many more issues here beyond whether people “take” music for free.