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Lawrence Golan’s Fight for Famous Foreign Music

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Lawrence Golan, the distinguished University of Denver professor who conducts the Lamont Symphony Orchestra and Opera Theatre, is fighting a 1994 recopyright law that removed thousands of foreign works—from the music of Igor Stravinsky to the films of Federico Fellini—from the public domain. The Supreme Court has accepted a petition he filed claiming it is difficult to stage performances of foreign compositions because copyright protections make them too expensive (International Business Times).

The legal questions in the petition center on Congress’ right to remove works from the public domain and the First Amendment rights of performers and producers. The long list of affected artists include Alfred Hitchcock, C.S. Lewis, H.G. Wells, and Picasso. Golan is backed by a legion of educators, performers, film archivists, and motion-picture distributors. Gene Quinn at IPWatchdog gets deep into the legal weeds of the case and the complex international web of law surrounding copyright cases: “I am personally offended that works have been snatched from the public domain. … Nevertheless, I think the Petitioners will have an uphill battle on their arguments.”

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