WI Congress had no power to make copyright laws

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Quintuplicate, Jan 7, 2019.

  1. Quintuplicate Well-Known Member

    Nov 20, 2018
    The rest of the Constitution remains the same, except with no Copyright Clause. Would states compete to see who could offer the shortest or the longest copyright terms? Would there be states with no copyright, and others with perpetual copyright? Would films, recordings, and video games be invented earlier or later than IOTL?
  2. Mark E. Well-Known Member

    Nov 11, 2007
    Forgottonia, USA
    Inventions would not change. As states developed copyright systems, Congress would simply step in and set up a uniform system. The fact that it is not in the Constitution does not preclude that action. After all, drug and pharmaceutical laws are not mentioned in the Constitution.
    Ciniad and authenticity like this.
  3. authenticity Well-Known Member

    Dec 24, 2018
    Between 1790 and 1976, the US had a dual system of both federal and state law, where the latter provided common law protection of non registered work.

    Now, I'm inclined to say US property laws tend to converge even at a state level. Also, given the US is the #1 proponent of international treaty commitments (first, UCC and Berne Convention; then the myriads of WIPO conventions and WTO TRIPS), it would have to develop some federal competence to sign them. In a world where even Afghanistan signed Berne, I doubt the US would ever allow for a copyright-North Korea inside its own territory.
  4. Drizzt Well-Known Member

    Nov 12, 2009
    Mostly Lurking
    They'd probably argue that the selling of books (and later records, tapes, cds and so on) across state lines allows Congress to pass copyright legislation under the Commerce Clause.
    Ciniad and authenticity like this.
  5. subway dreaming Active Member

    Mar 23, 2017
    Might SCotUS rule, though, that copyright and patent protections infringe on the freedom of the press guaranteed by the First Amendment?

    (I suppose at that point you’d get big business buying a constitutional amendment to impose a copyright clause.)