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Public Domain Act Introduced Into Congress 299

Posted by simoniker
from the further-down-the-road dept.
AnElder writes "In his blog yesterday Lawrence Lessig said '...Congresswoman Lofgren (D-CA) and Congressman Doolittle (R-CA) have agreed to introduce the Public Domain Enhancement Act into Congress.' Today the Eldred Act website features two press releases announcing the act's introduction, as well as its immediate support by '...the American Association of Law Libraries, the American Library Association, and the Association of Research Libraries...'" We ran a link to the petition supporting this Act a few weeks back.
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Public Domain Act Introduced Into Congress

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  • by JVert (578547) <corganbillyNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @08:10PM (#6298969) Journal
    Isn't 50 years kind of a long time to wait before even *considering* the copyright null? Sounds like a lot of work to shave off the last 20-30 years of a copyright.
    • Yeah I think it would be better if it were sometime around 20 years (maybe that magical 14 that people always talk about) and starting with a long time before needing to pay the fee (10-12 years), and as time goes on, the gap between fees shrinks. Might I even call it ... progressive? =)
    • by Googol (63685) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @08:15PM (#6299000)
      The idea is to end the regime of "perpetual copyright" by ensuring at least some works, which should by rights already be in the PD, get there. Right now, none do.

      This is about 50 years in the past, not 50 years in the future.

      =googol=

      IP Law in two easy lessons

      Theft by value: I take something that is yours.
      Theft by reference: you think of something; I think of the same thing.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @08:38PM (#6299128)
      The U.S. can't nullify a copyright before 50 years without violating the Berne Convention, which requires at least 50 years of copyright protection without registration.
      • I wouldn't shed any tears if the US decided to abandon the Berne Convention. It was a bad idea to begin with -- different countries tend to have different priorities with regards to copyright to begin with, and that's okay, and it's far too European a copyright system anyhow.

        I think we were doing better under the 1909 Act, particularly when Congress took a look at the B.C. and rejected it.
    • by EvanED (569694) <evaned@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @08:50PM (#6299196)
      The 50 years is necessary so as to not run afoul of the Berne Convention. This requires that copyrights miust last 50 years without any registration.
  • by lobsterGun (415085) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @08:11PM (#6298978)
    Public Domain Enhancement Act

    PDEA.

    Does that make people who like this bill pdeaophiles?
  • Berne Treaty? (Score:5, Informative)

    by loucura! (247834) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @08:12PM (#6298982)
    They say in the FAQ [eldred.cc] that this doesn't violate the Berne Treaty, because it isn't formally a "formality" nor a "registration", but you have to file a registration document and pay a fee to the US Copyright Register, which appears at least to this (NAL), that it is a formality and a register and in violation of the Berne Treaty.
    • Re:Berne Treaty? (Score:5, Informative)

      by imadork (226897) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @08:43PM (#6299160) Homepage
      they also say this in the same FAQ:
      It is possible that those charged with enforcing Berne would take a different view. They might see this tax as a simple way around the "formality" requirement. But as John Mark Ockerbloom nicely points out, Berne only imposes its requirements for the minimum term. If there is a formality problem with structuring this as a tax, then the proposal could be structured to apply only beyond Berne's minimum term.
      Which is exactly what they do in the bill by saying that you have no requirement to register until after 50 years, which is the minimum Berne term.
    • Re:Berne Treaty? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Qzukk (229616) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @08:47PM (#6299183) Journal
      The reason that it doesn't infringe on the treaty is that you're not registering or paying for the copyright, its that you're registering and paying for the extension of the copyright. Essentially this makes copyright "50 years 6 months, extended by 10 years every 10 years thereafter, until whatever Bono's great great granddaughter sets as the maximum.

    • The FAQ also says it could be modified to comply with any possible interpretation of the Berne Treaty if some other country actually bothers with the possibility of holding the US to a treaty, is convinced that this tax is not legitimate, and doesn't like this idea of this law. And while they're at it, they could get the US to pay their UN dues.

      But this bill could apply to works beyond the term set in the Berne treaty, which doesn't get extended periodically by Congress, which would lead to at least some w
    • Re:Berne Treaty? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by WarmBoota (675361) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:02PM (#6299575) Homepage

      Screw the Berne Treaty

      If Bush can decide that he wants to pull out of treaties designed to keep the peace [state.gov], I have no problem pulling out of treaties designed by corporations to keep the profits.

  • by caitsith01 (606117) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @08:12PM (#6298984) Journal
    Given that the record and film industry appears to have invested heavily in buying some congressmen, perhaps its time for the open source/public domain movements to do the same. All the good will in the world wont lead to actual passing of legislation when Time Warner/Sony/EMI/Bertlemann/Conglomokorp actually owns people on Capitol hill... we have a petition, but they have votes in Congress.

    I don't see why the EFF and similar groups can't 'invest' in a few reelection campaigns. The business model is established by numerous corporations and special interest groups - all it would take are funds. In fact the same applies to all progressive social and political groups... how come the bad guys are smart enough to heavily influence politics with their money but the good guys aren't?
    • by retto (668183) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @08:24PM (#6299048)

      how come the bad guys are smart enough to heavily influence politics with their money but the good guys aren't?

      Because people keep giving the 'bad' guys money. Have you bought a CD/DVD, gone to see a movie, or bought a book? You've just given money to the 'bad' guys. If you want the EFF to buy off a congressman, send them a $20 check instead of buying a CD. I don't have the figures, but I feel pretty confident that the EFF didn't bring in as much as AOL/TW last year.

    • by sn00ker (172521) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @08:26PM (#6299059) Homepage
      how come the bad guys are smart enough to heavily influence politics with their money but the good guys aren't?
      It's not about smart, it's about money.
      The "good guys" generally don't have the money to take on the "bad guys". The "bad guys" are "bad" because they have money - LOTS of money. The "good guys" are "good", generally, because they don't.

      Case in point, IBM vs SCO. There've been a number of (admittedly piss-taking) posts on here from people who say "Who do I support? IBM's mega-rich, but SCO're a bunch of fucktards."

      Until the "good guys" have the financial wherewithal to take on the "bad guys", corrupt governments will be more easily influenced by the corporations - The exact groups that should have precisely zero say in anything to do with how a country is run.

      • It's not about smart, it's about money. The "good guys" generally don't have the money to take on the "bad guys". The "bad guys" are "bad" because they have money - LOTS of money. The "good guys" are "good", generally, because they don't.

        legal battles are enormously expensive, but ususally when I see how much a congressman has been paid [opensecrets.org] by a business, it's a fairly small amount, like $20K, and I think, is that all it takes? That's only enough to employ an engineer for about a month. I don't there's

        • by sn00ker (172521) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @09:20PM (#6299342) Homepage
          but ususally when I see how much a congressman has been paid by a business, it's a fairly small amount, like $20K, and I think, is that all it takes?
          That's $20K times a lot of polly tubbies, though.
          Sure, $20K isn't much, but xxAA don't just buy one pet polly they buy dozens of them. Suddenly you're talking six or seven figures to even equal their investment - And you will always need to have one more pet polly than they do to be sure of success. Suddenly it's down to a war of attrition and the side with the deepest pockets (Hint: It's not the non-profits) has an enormous advantage.

        • There already is [slashdot.org]. As I remember, it was created with visions of grandeur and greeted by great fanfare. To be immediatly followed by a prompt dose of reality, which brings us where we are today.

      • I think this all relates to that concept of how power corrupts. Today money is power. money==power! So if you have a lot of money immediately we are worried that you will use your power in a corrupt manner, such as Microsoft and SCO. SCO doesn't even have money, all they have is patents. But its all the same thing. Power. And power corrupts.

        IBM is a rare exception of an extremely powerful entity that has very little corruption. Perhaps they learned from their past. But since the forces governing t
    • by Soko (17987) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @08:49PM (#6299189) Homepage
      WTF? "Insightful?" "Interesting?" Well, I think I'd mod this up too - to hold it up for ridicule.

      Read your .sig - "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety"

      Your post suggests trading $ for votes. "My vote won't count, but my $ will!"? Isn't that essentially giving up the most needed of democratic liberties? OK, so corporate America seems to run the show and seems to be able to buy votes - following through with your suggestion would only show that they've won and Congress is a place to buy profits. Unless you have a lot more $ than the opposition, your vote still doesn't matter. Fighting fire with fire sometimes leaves nothing but scorched earth.

      Listen to Sen. John McCain when he speaks of the need to rid elections of "soft money" - that is the crux of the problem. It will take a lot of time and energy to have the coprorate shills either turfed from office or earn thier election donations, but it can be done without stooping to the level of bribery. Use your rights fercryingoutloud - Freedom of Speech jumps into my head.

      Sheesh.

      Soko
      • All right, all right, settle down.

        (1) Don't preach to me about John McCain. If McCain had won the primary over GWB then the world would be a lot better place today and America's popularity wouldn't be at an all-time low worldwide. Furthermore I totally agree with him on campaign finance, as I have said in other posts in this thread. Unfortunately it will not happen while the Republicans are ruled by an evangelical/neocon cabal of realpolitik nazis (no trolling intended).

        (2) "Isn't that giving up the most
      • Here's McCain's donor list to his personal "leadership PAC". [opensecrets.org]

        Note that Micro$loth is on the top of the list of donors.

        If you actually believe that a letter from you and a letter from Microsoft have the same weight in determining how Senator McCain votes on any specific issue, you're as clueless as the rest of your post shows you as.

        The fact that you got moderated up to 5 is a demonstration of why I expect the US high-tech community to lose its freedom to create in the long run and why the laws Hollywood

    • by alizard (107678) <alizard&ecis,com> on Thursday June 26, 2003 @01:45AM (#6300425) Homepage
      Given that the record and film industry appears to have invested heavily in buying some congressmen, perhaps its time for the open source/public domain movements to do the same. All the good will in the world wont lead to actual passing of legislation when Time Warner/Sony/EMI/Bertlemann/Conglomokorp actually owns people on Capitol hill... we have a petition, but they have votes in Congress.

      I don't see why the EFF and similar groups can't 'invest' in a few reelection campaigns. The business model is established by numerous corporations and special interest groups - all it would take are funds. In fact the same applies to all progressive social and political groups... how come the bad guys are smart enough to heavily influence politics with their money but the good guys aren't?

      BECAUSE THEY CAN'T!!!

      Non profit 503(c)3 "educational" organizations can't spend a single dollar on political campaigns. That's the tradeoff you get for knowing your contributions from them are tax-deductible.

      The ONLY kind of organization that can raise money from the public

      That's why EFF, Public Citizen, etc. can only wring their hands when shit like the DMCA passes. All they can do is beg and plead with Congresscritters for mercy. They get polite treatment. The people with the checks get results.

      No, the major corporations don't always get their own way on the Hill. It is possible for people's organizations to get enough money from people in $5 and $10 and $20 and $100 contributions and disburse them in $1000 and $5000 and $10,000 checks, to hire full-time staff to analyze new laws so the members don't get blindsided, to hire lobbyists, to hire staff to open envelopes. And they can and do run political campaigns against people who persist in not getting the message.

      The existence proofs are the NRA and the AARP. They are professionally run, they raise money, they represent their membership effectively.

      What's the bottom line for us? A small group of people come up with a couple or 3 million dollars they don't expect to be tax deductible. Not to give to politicians, to hire top-bracket pros to build the fund-raising infrastructure to make it possible to raise money from us in $5 and $10 and $20 and $100 contributions to make meaningful contributions.

      American high-tech types have the following choices:

      • learn to bend over and take it with a smile and practice "Would you like fries with that?"
      • Get it together and start doing the PAC stuff right fucking now.
      • get ready to leave the US permanently for places outside the reach of Hollywood cartel-owned politicians.
      • Hope the RIAA member labels go bankrupt before they do any more serious damage to the high-tech scene.
      But without the startup money, this goes noplace. If nobody's willing to come forward with the price of freedom while it can still be paid in dollars, the only solutions to this problem are individual... figuring how to get out from under.

      Nobody's going to come forward with the startup money.

      The people who can are under the delusion that the Hollywood cartel can be negotiated with, and after they come up with consumer devices that'll make Hollywood happy but that nobody will buy because they're DRM-broken to uselessness, Hollywood will make all their content available for pay-per-download for everybody that the Internet infrastructure can't support, and we'll all march off to a future of infinite profits.

      I'm looking for . . . an individual solution.

  • by Shadow Wrought (586631) <shadow@wrought.gmail@com> on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @08:12PM (#6298989) Homepage Journal
    Supreme Court Justice Breyer found that only about 2% of copyrights between 55 and 75 years old retain commercial value.

    So now we know conclusively that Disney owns 2% of the copyrights between 55 and 75 years old.

  • by twifkak (177173) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @08:18PM (#6299016) Journal
    It'll be "Copyright will last for 5 months. After that expires, the author must pay $50,000 to renew it, for another 150 years, or eternally, whichever's longer."
    • by Guppy06 (410832) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @09:02PM (#6299249)
      You forgot about the riders attatched to raise their own salaries.
    • by twitter (104583) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @09:57PM (#6299560) Homepage Journal
      By the time Congress is through with it, it'll be "Copyright will last for 5 months. After that expires, the author must pay $50,000 to renew it, for another 150 years, or eternally, whichever's longer."

      While you might have been making a joke, the concept of paying for copyright protection might not be a good idea. With a short enough durration and a high enough cost, established publishers can effectively block out new entrants. It would also castrate the GPL when developers have their code co-opted because they can't pay to maintain their copyright. Patent fees like this are how Wittle lost his patent on the jet engine, which was much more reasonable than our current schedule. Fees might look reasonable if you are sitting someplace with money. Most people can't afford them and they have a way of doing just what your joke implies.

      Let's just roll back to a 14 year copyright protection. It's better to simply reduce the term so that anyone might publish an author's work within their lifetime. This maximizes the chances of useful works being published cheaply while they are relavant, while rewarding the author for publishing. 14 years was a good idea when publication was far more expensive and it's not a bad idea now. The GPL is still needed for 14 year copyrights because that's like 100 in software years. A hundred year copyright protected work might be widely published for the benifit of my great grandchildren and they probably won't want to read it.

  • by akaina (472254)
    " We ran a link to the petition supporting this Act a few weeks back. "

    A few weeks later it gets officially put on the table. Coincidence? I think not.

    WAY TO GO /.'ers!!!!!!!!!!!
  • by watchful.babbler (621535) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @08:27PM (#6299064) Homepage Journal
    John Doolittle's a major player on the Hill -- one of the uncompromisingly conservative young turks in the mid-nineties, he's forged a close relationship with Tom DeLay and attends the weekly House leadership meetings as secretary.

    An uncompromising conservative who has forged a reputation as a reliable ally and savvy lawmaker, he's got a wide net of influence that makes him considerably more powerful than he would seem at first. If anyone can get this thing on the agenda, it's him; his relationship with DeLay and Hastert will ensure that.

    With the conservative flank well-protected, it's the Democrats -- who, let's tell a hawk from a handsaw here, have often been craven in their defense of entertainment campaign dollars -- that need to be courted.

  • by Goonie (8651) * <[gro.arbmaneb] [ta] [lekrem.trebor]> on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @08:36PM (#6299119) Homepage
    This seems like a good idea. Not the revolution that we'd all like, but still a good idea.

    However, all the good intentions in the world don't matter if the bill doesn't get up eventually. Does this bill have any chance of getting through the two houses of Congress?

    • Does this bill have any chance of getting through the two houses of Congress?

      That and, will it make it out of committee?

      Many bills are often "keyholed" and remain stuck in committees or are simply rejected by committee. So lets hope that it makes it out of the committee to which it is refered.

      neurostar
    • by GlassHeart (579618) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @09:19PM (#6299331) Journal
      Does this bill have any chance of getting through the two houses of Congress?

      There are three important factors here:

      • Disney doesn't really care if it passes. They can easily afford the registration fee and procedure to protect their copyrighted works.
      • Disney would look really stupid if it opposed even this bill. At the time of the Sonny Bono Act, Disney was "protecting its investment" from lapsing into the public domain, so the question was "how long should copyright really be?" Today, the question is "should copyright last over fifty years with no obligation from the creator to even register?"
      • Disney can use the works that do lapse into the public domain in its own products, without having to pay royalties.
      If Disney realizes the opportunity to create some good PR for itself (for little or no cost!), then maybe it'll have a chance.
  • by DdJ (10790) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @08:40PM (#6299138) Homepage Journal
    Imagine: Disney pays the fee for "Steamboat Willie", but not for any other Mickey Mouse cartoons -- and then argues that all other Mickey Mouse cartoons are derivative works of "Steamboat Willie", and are naturally covered by the copyright on that work.

    Is there a reason that can't happen?
    • In which case they'd lose the copyrights on those later works -- which could then be reprinted in part or in full by anyone. And they'd lose the rights to control derivative works based upon those works' uncopyrighted portions.

      There are, in fact, some MM comic strips already in the public domain because they were not renewed by Disney ages ago. Hasn't had a big impact.

      Besides -- Disney would probably be willing to pay a few extra dollars to be safe. The investment isn't very big, after all. (but really sh
    • Imagine: Disney pays the fee for "Steamboat Willie", but not for any other Mickey Mouse cartoons -- and then argues that all other Mickey Mouse cartoons are derivative works of "Steamboat Willie", and are naturally covered by the copyright on that work.

      Then they're really fucked, because there were two Mickey Mouse cartoons made before "Steamboat Willie", and since those would be public domain, then there would be prior art issues. Or prior cel issues, as the case may be.

      I am really sick and tired of p

  • by Anonymous Coward
    any policy that advocates pubic domination!

    What?

    Oh.

    Well I'm against public domain too!

  • by lysium (644252) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @08:46PM (#6299176)
    âoeWhat you donâ(TM)t understand, Lessig, is that your bullshit âopenâ(TM) or âfreeâ(TM) types will never â" NEVER â" be able to compete with corporate organization. Squabbles-about-egos-pretending-to-be-about-the-me rits can never be quashed. There is no one to say âenough, letâ(TM)s move on.â(TM) So every great idea that your type creates, weâ(TM)ll just wait, watch, and then take. Always.â -- paraphrased from a conversation with someone from within one of the (how many are there?) largest proprietary code companies
    -snip-

    Microsoft? Oracle? Doesn't matter, really. Hell, even game developers are beginning to exploit game communities and user modifications as features to market the game -- before said things exist. I fear a burnout at some point down the road...

    -------------

  • by kaltkalt (620110) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @08:56PM (#6299226)
    Ever notice how, when an IP law (smart or stupid) is introduced in Congress, it's nearly always by 1 Democrat and 1 Republican? It's not due to the wonderfully happy beautiful spirit of bipartisanship that's permeating the air of Washington. Naw I'm more cynical than that.

    Here's why. The RIAA, MPAA, etc. make sure they toss around large amounts of money to both parties (as all good interest groups should do) to get the laws they want passed. As IP policy is not addressed by the platforms of either political party, those who are going to sell out and fuck america up the ass for lots of campaign money realize that it will not only look better if they introduce said law in bipartisan pairs, but it is much safer, too. A bill sponsored by 1 republican and 1 democrat is much less likely to be attacked by either party as a whole. In fact, such a bill will never be attacked by either party as a whole. If, say, the republicans were the ones passing all the "destroy their computers and send them to guantanimo" IP laws, the democrats would immediately campaign against it, and vice-versa. So since both parties know the other doesn't care, and since both parties have plenty of members willing to whore themselves out for money, those who introduce these bills know it's mutually beneficial for both parties to do so in pairs.

    Of course the same thing does for good laws, such as the one that's the subject of this thread. If two Republicans introduced the Eldred Act, the Democrats would immediately accuse the Reps of supporting criminals.

    Insightful. You bet your ass.
  • http://www.house.gov/writerep/

    it takes two minutes!
    • I just did (Score:3, Interesting)

      by yerricde (125198)

      I just used the form [house.gov] to send a message to The Honorable Mark E. Souder, which went something like this:

      Tens of thousands of works, possibly 98 percent of copyrighted works published before 1940, are no longer commercially exploited but are still locked up behind copyright. Under copyright, these works are not only collecting dust but becoming dust, as the physical media in which they are fixed is slowly deteriorating. The Public Domain Enhancement Act would help move these works into the public domain,

  • HOAX! (Score:3, Funny)

    by cybercuzco (100904) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @09:27PM (#6299385) Homepage Journal
    Its gotta be a hoax, I mean come on congressman doolittle? Isnt that implied by the first title? Next thing youll tell me theres a Senator Brownback. ;-)
  • Flatulence (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nhavar (115351) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @09:33PM (#6299419) Homepage
    I understand that basically this is a tool to help with current copyright issues. Maybe getting some currently copyrighted works into the public domain... but... If you're going to go through all the effort why not just do it right and think about the future of copyright also.

    My economic stimulous plan is to push copyright to 14 years renewable one time for another 14 years for a fee. Berne Convention or not! Most companies should easily be able to make a profit off of their works/work for hire within a 14-28 year period. If not what in the hell are they doing in business - learn how to balance your books.

    My thought is that if you have a fairly short expire date for those profits to be reduced then the companies will work harder to produce new works which means new sales to maintain profits. New works will be easier to churn out because there's plenty of newly released fodder from the expired copyrights.

    Companies that can't innovate in that market don't deserve to be in business and shouldn't be able to legislate themselves into staying in business.
  • by nickmontfort (112090) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @09:42PM (#6299471) Homepage

    I'm surprised at the comments that suggest this bill doesn't matter because it can only hope to free up those copyrighted works with no commercial value. Here we have stories about the Intellivision operating system [slashdot.org] drawing hundreds of comments, articles all the time about classic [slashdot.org] console [slashdot.org] and arcade [slashdot.org] video games, news of public domain audiobooks, [slashdot.org] and talk about a huge amount of "content" that clearly has no commercial value but is still really interesting, fun, and/or enlightening.

    Yes, some of the stuff I've mentioned does sometimes make an appearance in a commercial product like a 25-in-1 game controller or something, but there are still huge amounts of old computer games, books, films, music, and other media that are never going to make anyone a cent again. Some of these still would be nice to have around and have access to. Some of this stuff might be "sampled" or otherwise incorporated into new works of art, some might be used for historical or other academic research, and some of it might just be watched or read or listened to or played with by a small group of people who aren't much of a "market" but who still appreciate this work being available instead of lost in an corporate bureaucracy.

  • question (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cybercuzco (100904) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @09:56PM (#6299548) Homepage Journal
    Who is eligible to reregister, and when can they do it? If something like "its a wondeful life" goes into the public domain, and then 20 years later beecomes a big moneymaker again, can anyone pay $1 and put it back under copyright? Can the original owners do so? Can somone hijack a copyright once its up for renewal? Its only good if once something goes into the public domain it does so in perpetuity, and can never be returned to copyright.
  • Problem with this? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tom7 (102298) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:01PM (#6299574) Homepage Journal

    I love the idea of this bill.

    But there's a problem, as far as I see:

    Unless payment of the applicable maintenance fee is received in the Copyright Office on or before the date the fee is due or within a grace period of 6 months thereafter, the copyright shall expire as of the end of that grace period.


    Doesn't this mean that someone can just pay their $5 immediately upon creating the work, thus registering for the ~50 year extension? That seems bad to me, since essentially every book publisher (etc.) will just pay that fee when they publish. I thought the idea was that works "abandoned" after 50 years would have nobody around to bother to "renew" them, and then they would pass into the public domain. Even with an ammendment to the law, would someone just be able to set up a service that would automatically send in the forms and payment for subscribers' works when it's due?

    However, even if most people still pay the fee up front and get the full length of copyright, the database of such works will be extremely useful for things like project Gutenberg, where one of the hardest parts is simply finding out whether a work is still protected.
  • by femto (459605) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:52AM (#6300285) Homepage
    As I see it, such an act is tipped slightly against Free contetnt (but not Opensource content).

    With the current setup, the stronger copyright is, the stronger copyleft is. For example, if copyright terms are 90 years, it will be 90 years before Free software can copy Unix code, but it will also be 90 years before Unix can copy Free software and make it closed source.

    Under the proposed act, if one assumes the Free content is less likely to have a revenue stream than the closed source content (an invalid assumption?) it is more likely that the Free content's copyrights will lapse while the closed-source content's copyrights are renewed.

    Okay, software will probably be obsolete in 50 years, but the same applies to music, films, books and other forms of content which don't go obsolete as quickly.

    End result: Closed source content has a chance to use Free content while Free content doesn't get a reciprocal benefit.

    I'm not necessarily saying it is a bad thing. It might turn out that the boost Free content gets from all that new public domain material is bigger than the loss, but it's something to think about.

  • Long term results (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mcrbids (148650) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @01:54AM (#6300442) Journal
    When you evaluate the strength of something, you have to look at not only its immediate action, but its long term effects.

    One thing we know about government is that if there's a "temporary" fee, it will last forever. And those "small" fees are almost certain to grow.

    By introducing this bill as a "miniscule" fee, they've effectively planted the seed that would all but defeat the existing "eternal" copyright insanities.

    In short, we would have a say because government would have a reason to listen - $$ talks louder than any number of letters, faxes, and emails.
  • by Jerry (6400) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @09:09AM (#6301726)
    eliminate free public access to any works previously in the "Public" domain, and minimize the inclusion of any future works in that venue.

    That's just the way bills in Congress works: the result of the bill is always exactly opposite of what the title of the bill implies.
  • by call -151 (230520) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @11:49AM (#6303321) Homepage
    It would be good if pure research were put into the "public domain", particularly when it is paid for by tax dollars.

    There is an interesting NYT article today [nytimes.com] about a call for federally funded research to be more freely available, instead of in expensive and restrictive journals. It's about time- there are many expensive for-profit journals, whose worth is determined by reputations established primarily by the refereeing process. Referees are usually academics not paid by journals. Since the NSF or NIH is often paying for the researcher (who is doing the hardest work) and the universities are paying for the referees (who are doing the next hardest part of the work) and the labs and resources are usually paid for by universities (often the greatest expense) it is remarkable that the
    journals have been getting away with making big piles of money for essentially being clearinghouses and middlemen. In mathematics, there has been some resistance [umd.edu], including some from bigshots [berkeley.edu], to these journal monopolies, but change towards cheaper/free/non-profit journals has been slow. I choose to submit my research to reaonable journals on this criteria, but that means that I will never submit my work to some of the most prestigious ones. In medicine, where journals often restrict researchers from even discussing their results with colleagues or media until the article appears, this could be a massive chage. Many scientific journals do not permit you to post your own research on your web page and hopefully this overdue movement towards free distribution gathers momentum.

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