In a defeat for internet publishers and others who wanted to make old books available online without paying high royalties, the Supreme Court on Jan. 15 upheld lengthier copyrights protecting the profits of songs, books, and even cartoon characters.

Hundreds of thousands of books, movies, and songs were close to being released into the public domain when Congress extended the copyright by 20 years in 1998.

In a 7-2 decision, justices said the copyright extension, named for the late Rep. Sonny Bono, R-Calif., was neither unconstitutional overreaching by Congress, nor a violation of constitutional...

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