LOCATION: Pennsylvania State Capital Building
DOCKET NO.: 71-1192
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: State trial court
CITATION: 412 US 546 (1973)
ARGUED: Dec 13, 1972
DECIDED: Jun 18, 1973
Arthur Leeds - for petitioners
David M. Schacter - for respondent
Facts of the case
Media for Goldstein v. California
Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 13, 1972 in Goldstein v. California
Warren E. Burger:
Mr. Leeds you may proceed whenever you're ready.
Thank you Your Honor.
Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.
The question presented by this case is whether or not the State of California has the right or any other State through the use of its criminal laws to enact what is in effect a copyright for sound recordings and I would credit further than that what is in effect a copyright that goes further than any federal copyright has ever gone and could ever go under the provisions of Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the Constitution.
Warren E. Burger:
It will help me with the outset Mr. Leeds if I -- if you will help me get the -- clarify the situation that existed before this recent federal statute.
I'm thinking of the case of Shapiro, Bernstein against Remington Records back in the Second Circuit about 1956 or 1957 where they were dealing with two cents per record copyright.
Under what kind of a statute was that two cents required to be paid to anyone who copied the record?
Yes Your Honor, that is somewhat confusing.
The federal statute required -- prior to Public law 9214, required that anyone who wished the underlined musical composition, and by that, I mean the work of a composer which is usual assigned to a publishing house, anyone who wish to use that could do so upon payment of two cents per use.
That will mean if you made an album you might make 12 uses if you sold a thousand albums you make 12,000 uses and you have to pay the two cents to the composer for the use of that song and he could -- the composer could stop anyone from making use of the song as long as he did not use on the record.
But under Title 17 Sections (1)(e) and (101)e as existed part of Public law in 92140.
Once anyone was allowed to make a recording, a sound recording then the so called Composer License Provisions came into effect and anyone else could make what was called a similar use by paying the statutory royalty of two cents and by filing the required notice of intent to use.
Warren E. Burger:
This statutory royalty should be paid to the first recording company would it?
No Your Honor.
It would be paid only to the publishing house, the composer.
We have to divide up here the difference between the composer and the performing artist.
We have two separate interests involved here, one would be the interest composer, the man who writes the song.
A Verdi Opera for instance, Verdi would have one interest, the performer who performed it and recorded his performance would have another interest.
Those are two separate indistinguishable interests.
As a matter of fact Your Honor, I think that the congress that passed the law in 1909, which remained essentially unchanged until Public Law 92-140 became effective in February 15th of this year.
What Congress said is part of its committee report that accompanied that1909 law, it is not the intention of the committee to extend the right of copyright to the mechanical reproductions themselves but only to give the composer or copyright proprietor the control in accordance with provisions of the bill of the manufacture and use of such devices and I think it has been universally accepted the --
Well, that is in connection with the new bill?
No Your Honor, that was in connection with the 1909 Act, and the original Act.
The new -- the new bill and the legislative history involved with the new bill is set-up to some extent in our reply brief.
And I call Your Honors' attentions to the portion of their reply brief, which commence at page four, which discusses some of the legislative intent.
Because the question has come up is to whether Public law in 92140 was in any way intended change the prior legislative history.
By that, it has been argued by a respondent that somehow Congress in Public Law 92-140 intended to authorize the States to enact the legislation similar to the California statute.
As we point out in our brief, we think that it is absolutely contrary to both the level of the statute which says it shall have no effect on –-
I don't have a –-
-- previous law on sound recordings recorded prior the Public Law 92-140.