WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court debated Wednesday whether Congress was wrong to block public access to Mickey Mouse and other classics.
In a case with appeal for many people, the court is considering whether it was unconstitutional for Congress to give writers and other creators a 20-year copyright extension. Hanging in the balance are huge profits for companies, like The Walt Disney Co. and AOL Time Warner Inc., which benefit from copyrights.
Some justices seemed bothered by the retroactive extension, enacted in 1998, which delayed the release of many old books and movies. But they seemed equally concerned about their standing to intervene.
"I can find a lot of fault with what Congress did," Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said. "This flies directly in the face of what the framers of the Constitution had in mind, but is it unconstitutional?"
The extension protected some depictions of Disney's Mickey Mouse, along with hundreds of thousands of books, movies and songs that were about to be released into the public domain.
"If this (extension) is permitted, then there is no limit," Stanford Law School professor Lawrence Lessig argued on behalf of a New Hampshire Internet publisher who challenged the law.
Solicitor General Theodore Olson told justices that while they may personally disagree with the law, Congress had authority to pass it.
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