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Public Domain Day 2014 225

Posted by timothy
from the or-not-so-much dept.
An anonymous reader writes "What could have been entering the public domain in the US on January 1, 2014? Under the law that existed until 1978.... Works from 1957. The books On The Road, Atlas Shrugged, Empire of the Atom, and The Cat in the Hat, the films The Incredible Shrinking Man, The Bridge on the River Kwai, and 12 Angry Men, the article "Theory of Superconductivity," the songs "All Shook Up" and "Great Balls of Fire," and more.... What is entering the public domain this January 1? Not a single published work."
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Public Domain Day 2014

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @12:56PM (#45830093)

    See, if those works had entered the public domain, the private owners would never profit off of them.

    And that's very important you know. Look how much money that Atlas Shrugged movie made for Ayn Rand!

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @01:03PM (#45830189)
      Please take your Socialist bullshit somewhere else. Without Atlas Shrugged, we would not have nearly the same amount of stiff resistance to the current administrations redistributionist anti-business agenda.
      • by zlives (2009072) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @01:11PM (#45830255)

        +5 funny

      • YOu are so right! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @01:34PM (#45830521)

        If I weren't sooo lazy, I'd work a bit harder and BOOM! I'd be RICH! Why, if I weren't so lazy, I could get another job on top of my other two, and work some more! After all, I'm only working 80 hours a week and who needs sleep and recreation!

        And we all know that the billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Buffet and all them got where they are by working hard and being honest and forthright people! Anyone can do it!

        We all know that all it takes here in the states is to work hard and wealth is guaranteed! Well, if it weren't for the government regulations.

        I had a chemical disposal business and the fucking EEE, PEEE, AYE stopped me from disposing in the local trout stream! How the hell is one going to make a living with these communist basterds?! And this bullshit nonsense about children getting cancer and whatnot - why there's St. Judes to help them! Business and profits first and health and well being is just a socialist value! Anyway, cancer was created by socialists to punish the hard working creators and rewards the takers!

        And this bullshit of "you didn't build that!" why, the private sector could do just fine building roads and highways and edukating us!

        If you're poor, it's all because of your character! Yes sir! If you worked hard have decent values, you wouldn't be poor!

        Poor people have poor character and they are stupid! It's all their fault! If they would just pull themselves up by their bootstraps like I did, all would be well!

        I tell you, the values in this society have deteriorated. Way back when, those people would be left to starve - as they should - and it allowed for us makers to achieve and better society.

    • by Penguinisto (415985) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @01:27PM (#45830447) Journal

      Ayn Rand is dead, so why the need for continued copyright on the book?

    • by mcgrew (92797) * on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @01:56PM (#45830739) Homepage Journal

      See, if those works had entered the public domain, the private owners would never profit off of them.

      I think the AC is going for "funny" but nobody OWNS a writing or a song or image. I don't own Nobots, I merely have a "limited" (for bizarre values of "limited") time monopoly.

      I control its publication, but I don't own it. Nobody does and nobody should.

  • Would it matter? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @12:56PM (#45830097)

    IIRC, U.S. courts recently decided that public-domain works could have their copyrights reinstated post facto.

    If anything from Disney did ever accidentally enter the public domain, Congress would fix that in short order.

  • Sherlock Holmes (Score:5, Informative)

    by innocent_white_lamb (151825) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @12:58PM (#45830131)

    Actually, Sherlock Holmes is finally in the public domain. It took a court order to shake it loose, though.

    http://www.latimes.com/books/jacketcopy/la-et-jc-new-sherlock-holmes-copyright-20131230,0,5610784.story [latimes.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @12:59PM (#45830137)

    At least we are safe from a bunch of pseudo-libertarian amateur filmmakers creating their own personal "Atlas Shrugged" movies.

    • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @02:20PM (#45830963) Homepage Journal
      Yes, we must leave this to the professional film makers who absolutely did not release two nearly unwatchable Atlas Shrugged movies already...
      • by crunchygranola (1954152) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @02:31PM (#45831081)

        Yes, we must leave this to the professional film makers who absolutely did not release two nearly unwatchable Atlas Shrugged movies already...

        They are simply being true to their source material. An unreadable book should translate to an unwatchable movie.

        • Re:it keeps us safe (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @02:52PM (#45831285)

          I have found that those most critical of Ayn Rand, and Atlas Shrugged in particular, have typically never read it. While it's a mildly interesting dystopian future novel, I've never fully understood either the praise or criticism it receives. For example you call it "unreadable", but I found it quite readable. It needed a better editor to trim out the fat, but you could say that about any James Michener novel as well. Her characters are one dimensional, especially the antagonists of the novel. That is probably my biggest gripe. Meanwhile some people seem to treat it like the Bible or similar. I read it once, and that was enough for me. I don't take my political ideology from novelists. I certainly don't pick and choose my reading material based on the ravings of left wing and right wing lunatics. So I can't understand how it is so influential, unless those who criticize it fear what it represents, and those who praise it can't think for themselves.

          • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @03:55PM (#45831829) Homepage Journal
            50 page monologues are what make the book unreadable. The terrible characterization is just a cherry on top.
          • by Dishevel (1105119) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @04:44PM (#45832231)
            When something scares you it can not be just in your opinion wrong. It must be evil incarnate. You can not just disagree with the premise but the words themselves must be wiped from history.

            I have read the book and watched both movies. I believe that Ayn Rand was wrong and right. Pure 100 percent capitalism is not a wonder drug. But regulations are wielded by the politically connected to the detriment of innovation on a fairly constant basis. When you do to much for the lazy at the expense of the drivers of the economy bad things will happen. When you penalize an action you reduce it. When you reward a thing it increases.

            This is why you must have a limit on how long unemployment benefits can last. If you made it able to last forever you will encourage some to stay longer. The perfect length of unemployment insurance is (at least be me) unknown. But we have one group of people that think it is evil for even a week. We have another that cries "Unfeeling bastard!" if you even think of not extending it each time it runs out for a person.

            What needs to happen though is that words like mine are dangerous so they must be attacked. The funny thing is that the idiots that believe that capitalism must me 100% unchecked will at least let me have my opinion. Those that think there must be a permanent net installed for any potential failure of any individual will do their best to mock, marginalize and bully it out of existence.

            The same people I believe that "Will not tollerate!" those who do not fully accept someone else s choices in life.

          • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @04:45PM (#45832249)

            Her characters are one dimensional, especially the antagonists of the novel.

            She was a Russian writer. Characters are meant to illustrate IDEAS, not be "real people".

          • by crunchygranola (1954152) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @05:55PM (#45832849)

            I have found that those most critical of Ayn Rand, and Atlas Shrugged in particular, have typically never read it...

            Really? How did you determine that? Or are you just assuming?

            It is probably accurate to say the those most critical of Ayn Rand, and Atlas Shrugged in particular, have typically never finished it. I fall into that category. I got 10% of the way through, is that not enough punishment? It is one of the longest novels ever published by a regular publisher in English (perhaps the fifth longest) with 645,000 words (and fewer than 100 characters), about 80,000 more than War and Peace (which I had no trouble finishing) covers 8 years of history and has over 500 characters. "Long winded" does not begin to do Atlas Shrugged justice.

  • by Virtucon (127420) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @12:59PM (#45830141)

    He's buried here.. [tripadvisor.com]

    You can go and hire Ms. Cleo [youtube.com] and do a seance and complain to him since he sponsored the legislation. [wikipedia.org]

     

  • by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @01:00PM (#45830157) Journal

    The books On The Road, Atlas Shrugged, ..., and The Cat in the Hat, the films The Incredible Shrinking Man

    "Hurry!" Dagny Taggart moaned. "Before he gets any smaller!"

    The strange cat in the hat grabbed the incredible shrinking man, who struggled mightily, but, being the size of a Barbie doll, could put up little resistance. "I'm gay, don't do this to me!"

    "Tough shit, little man! I know it is wet and the sun is not sunny, but we can have lots of good fun that is funny.” He took him and and slowly eased him feet first up ins

    GOD DAMN IT, this stuff is not public domain. Nevermind.

  • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @01:01PM (#45830159)

    It may still be illegal to download these things, but it's now much more difficult to argue that it's unethical to do so. Distributing these works should be considered an act of civil disobedience.

    • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @01:29PM (#45830463)

      At least for Christians, it may be unethical to ignore bad copyright rules. In the Christian New Testament, St. Peter's first letter contains this passage:

      "Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor."

      A noteworthy thing here is that the letter carves out no exception regarding stupidly justified laws. (There are plenty of other places in the Bible that make it clear that it's okay for followers of God to disobey evil laws, however.)

    • by fermion (181285) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @01:42PM (#45830613) Homepage Journal
      I argue that these less liberal copyright laws, along with changes in technology, are really the reason why kids today have little respect for copyright law. Some argue that the ability to sell ones work is an basic right, but really it is something we set in law to help and encourage creation of derivative works, as something that is completely new is quite rare. A compromise between a reality where things are chopped and screwed to maximize creation and where a producer can exclusively benefit economically for a short period of time, thus reducing the creation of works.

      The developed western world is not going to be able to compete with these draconian copyright laws. Places like China are soon going to be a major competitor. Having things copyrighted in perpetuity provides not benefits for a nation, only for a select few who think they are above the nation. And at some point the cost of enforcing the law on mickey mouse is going to be so great that it will fall, just like the current war on drugs.

    • by Scowler (667000) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @02:25PM (#45831015)
      Nice. In other words, it's now ethical to break any law you happen to disagree with.
  • by Gothmolly (148874) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @01:06PM (#45830215)

    I think the universe would implode.

  • by TWiTfan (2887093) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @01:09PM (#45830251)

    Thanks to Disney and others, the very idea of works EVER entering the public domain will eventually become a relic.

    • by TWiTfan (2887093) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @01:34PM (#45830517)

      I don't know who the fuck modded this down (Disney fan maybe??), but I'm dead serious. Back in the day, I used to teach my students the in-and-outs of copyright law (75 years plus, or whatever the hell the law happened to be at any given time). But since the 90's, I just tell them that anything that anything published from 1923 onwards will always be under copyright.

    • by dkleinsc (563838) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @01:43PM (#45830623) Homepage

      And the real irony is that Disney built its animated empire on stories in the public domain:
      - Snow White? Grimm's Fairy Tales.
      - Pinocchio? Carlo Collodi, 1880.
      - Fantasia? Classical music from the public domain. The highlight, the Sorcerer's Apprentice, is from Goethe in 1798.
      - Bambi? Nope, they stole that one too, from a 1923 work of Felix Salten
      - Cinderella? That was written about 1700.
      - Alice in Wonderland? Lewis Carroll, of course.

      Basically, if it's a "Disney princess", they almost definitely stole the character from somewhere else.

      • by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @02:24PM (#45831007)

        And the real irony is that Disney built its animated empire on stories in the public domain:
        - Snow White? Grimm's Fairy Tales.
        - Pinocchio? Carlo Collodi, 1880.
        - Fantasia? Classical music from the public domain. The highlight, the Sorcerer's Apprentice, is from Goethe in 1798.
        - Bambi? Nope, they stole that one too, from a 1923 work of Felix Salten
        - Cinderella? That was written about 1700.
        - Alice in Wonderland? Lewis Carroll, of course.

        Basically, if it's a "Disney princess", they almost definitely stole the character from somewhere else.

        Disclaimer: I am a Disney fan. However, I am willing to admit that Disney has hypocritically played both sides of the aisle here in milking public domain when it suited them (Snow White now practically belongs to them, for example) and crying loudly for copyright protection for their original material about to enter the public domain, but your examples are not 100% accurate.

        Fantasia contains "Rite Of Spring" which was composed by Igor Stravinski and should have been under copyright at the time (the film came out in 1940 and "Rite" was composed in 1913.).
        Bambi was based on a book and Disney purchased the film rights to the book, although they bought them from a producer who had previously purchased the rights and abandoned the project when he realized it would be too difficult for him to do.

      • by i.r.id10t (595143) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @02:52PM (#45831273)

        So should public domain status be "viral" like the GPL ? The actual performance of the work (speaking the words as well as the animation) and the recording thereof is what is copyrighted, not the actual story. Should derivative works automatically become public domain (and only public domain, no "cross licensing")?

      • by dryeo (100693) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @03:04PM (#45831377)

        Don't forget The Jungle Book, which they published about one day (I'm only slightly exaggerating) after it entered the public domain to avoid paying the estate of Kipling (or whoever owned the rights.)

      • The Disney version. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by westlake (615356) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @05:08PM (#45832413)

        And the real irony is that Disney built its animated empire on stories in the public domain
        - Bambi? Nope, they stole that one too, from a 1923 work of Felix Salten

        It is never wise to take anything a geek says about Disney at face value.

        In 1933, Sidney Franklin, a producer and director at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, purchased the film rights to Felix Salten's novel Bambi, A Life in the Woods, intending to adapt it as a live-action film. After years of experimentation, he eventually decided that it would be too difficult to make such a film and he sold the film rights to Walt Disney in April 1937. Disney began work on crafting an animated adaptation immediately, intending it to be the company's second feature-length animated film and their first to be based on a specific, recent work.

        Bambi [wikipedia.org]

        Philip Pullman's Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version [amazon.com] retells fifty of these classic tales in a four hundred page book. Call it eight pages on average per story.

        That is barely enough material to sustain a one-act stage play.

        The truth is that the adaptation becomes memorable through its embellishments, its richness in detail. ''Hansel & Gretel'' at Columbia Marionette Theatre: A Sweet Artistic Triumph [jaspercolumbia.net]

        It isn't a generic Sleeping Beauty the geek wants to appropriate from Disney, it is Maleficent. [youtube.com]

    • by ravenscar (1662985) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @02:12PM (#45830891)

      Which is funny since Disney made their fortune remaking stories that were already in the Public Domain:
      Cinderella
      Sleeping Beauty
      Snow White
      Beauty and the Beast
      Frozen ...

      The list goes on.

  • by maverickgunn (3480787) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @01:18PM (#45830345)

    The entire purpose of copyright was to serve as an incentive for creators to add to the public wealth of knowledge and art. It was mutually beneficial: they get public protection for their work, and the public receives high quality art.

    The corruption of copyright by the likes of Disney and other mega-conglomerates has polluted that purpose. Now, copyright is a legal bludgeon used to deprive the public of its culture while perpetually forcing them to pay to get it back.

    If they want perpetual ownership of their work, they should lose any public or legal protections of it: it's quid pro quo, and if they are unwilling to hold up their end, they should be required to hold up both.

    • by tomhath (637240) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @01:34PM (#45830513)

      The entire purpose of copyright was to serve as an incentive for creators to add to the public wealth of knowledge and art. It was mutually beneficial: they get public protection for their work, and the public receives high quality art.

      The primary purpose of copyright was to ensure that the creators could profit from their work for a reasonable length of time, then the work would enter the public domain so others can use or extend it. I agree that current copyright laws don't serve that purpose very well; the concept needs to be modernized to accommodate corporations which can exist for hundreds of years as well as individuals. More like trademark than copyright.

      • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @06:22PM (#45833019) Homepage

        The primary purpose of copyright was to ensure that the creators could profit from their work for a reasonable length of time, then the work would enter the public domain so others can use or extend it.

        No.

        The primary purpose of copyright is to serve the public interest in advancing the progress of science. The means by which it functions involves giving authors a chance to profit (it's far from ensured; in fact most never make a cent from their copyrights and never will) but its a big mistake to confuse the means with the ends.

        I agree that current copyright laws don't serve that purpose very well; the concept needs to be modernized to accommodate corporations which can exist for hundreds of years as well as individuals. More like trademark than copyright.

        That would just make things worse. We need to seriously reduce the scope and duration of copyright. It's grown so bloated that authors would barely notice any effects of this, but the public would benefit greatly.

    • by CastrTroy (595695) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @02:03PM (#45830807) Homepage
      On the other hand, in the old days, copyrighted works would basically disappear after a certain period of time. Without a way to flawlessly record and maintain books, music, and movies, works would inevitably be lost, or of poor quality, so people needed new works to be produced, or there would be no copyrighted works. Now that all copyrighted works are able to be stored in a way that stops any of their original quality from being lost, things have changed a bit. the original copyright terms were 14 (17??) years. Having everything from the year 2000 and previous in the public domain would leave a whole lot of content out there that's in pristine condition, that people could use without paying anyone. I'm thinking that 75 years (or whatever it's at now) is probably too high, but if the number was set too low, then we'd have a similar problem that we now have with piracy, where there's so much work freely available, that people don't bother paying for the new stuff.
      • by broken_chaos (1188549) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @05:11PM (#45832441)

        I'm thinking that 75 years (or whatever it's at now) is probably too high, but if the number was set too low, then we'd have a similar problem that we now have with piracy, where there's so much work freely available, that people don't bother paying for the new stuff.

        You may wish to double-check your figures on the profits of the culture industry. It may be shocking, after the bullshit spewed by the RIAA, MPAA, etc., but they are making a hell of a lot of money despite piracy. There is also a substantial amount of research that suggests those who pirate more also legally purchase more when it comes to media.

      • by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @05:19PM (#45832493)

        Without a way to flawlessly record and maintain books, music, and movies, works would inevitably be lost, or of poor quality, so people needed new works to be produced, or there would be no copyrighted works.

        Umm, not really. I work on a regular basis with old books (with include music manuscripts too) that are hundreds of years old, some over a thousand. Parchment required killing lots of animals to make a manuscript; paper books were also quite expensive until the 1900s. Anything that was valued enough to be written down at all was meant to last. And by the time that movies became very popular, copyright terms were 56 years (28+28), whereas movie fads changed so rapidly that a lot of early films from the 1910s and 1920s (and even decades later) have been completely lost.

        Not because people couldn't make more copies of films or store them, but because nobody cared.

        Which brings up the real reason why new works used to be created (and still do) -- tastes change. People like new stuff. The idea that we should worship "classical" literature and "classical" music pretty much didn't exist before about 1800. Instead, artists just kept making stuff because that's what artists do, and the public likes whatever new fad comes along.

        Now that all copyrighted works are able to be stored in a way that stops any of their original quality from being lost, things have changed a bit.

        I don't know about this. We have lots and lots medieval manuscripts that are easily legible which are over a thousand years old. The hides of animals used to make them were and are very durable. We have clay and stone tablets from the ancient world that are thousands of years old.

        On the other hand, I have files written in defunct file formats that are less than 20 years old which I can't read without jumping through special hoops. I have video files I purchased less than a decade ago which I can no longer open because of DRM. (I've since learned my lesson....)

        Is our current information storage system more durable than animal skin parchment paper that has lasted 1000 years?? We'll see. I think some of the digital archiving problems are being solved, but I already know scholars working on material from the past 20 years that have alluded to them as "lost decades." Historical figures up to the 1970s and 1980s usually kept lots of paper letters and things that can still be accessed by historians. Scholars studying people who have died more recently often are dealing with many years of correspondence simply lost when things had transitioned to email... which often was just deleted or forgotten when a new computer was acquired.

        Mostly what has changed in the past few years is not the durability of the storage medium, but rather the ability to make copies very easily at almost no cost. Whether we keep making those copies in formats that we can continue to read is an open question.

        the original copyright terms were 14 (17??) years.

        The original copyright terms were in Italy in the late 1400s, and typically were granted to individual publishers or authors for a period of 7-10 years. The Statute of Anne (1707, which is the first copyright thing most people have heard of) established a 14-year copyright period with a 14-year renewal, i.e., a maximum of 28 years. The first copyright laws in the U.S. (1790) granted the same rights.

      • by ZombieBraintrust (1685608) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @05:37PM (#45832673)
        Artistic works are created regardless if there is an economic incentive or not. No one payed you any money when you doodled stuff in high school. No one is paying 4 year olds to play with crayons. No on is paying the thousands of amatuer muscians involved in bands and choirs. There is no copyright on jokes and people still make them. There is already enough artistic works in the world that no new works need to be created. People want new art because new art is part of new culture. People want to watch Game of Thrones because everyone is talking about it. If people were all talking about the Grapes of Wrath people would be reading that book instead.
      • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @06:16PM (#45832969) Homepage

        Without a way to flawlessly record and maintain books, music, and movies, works would inevitably be lost, or of poor quality, so people needed new works to be produced, or there would be no copyrighted works.

        What the hell are you talking about?

        We've always been able to flawlessly copy books. We haven't always done enough of it, but we've always been able to. And music and movies can generally be preserved and reproduced fairly well if some care is taken.

        Copyright interferes with the preservation and reproduction of works by imposing additional costs on archivists and outright impeding copying and distribution.

        We put up with it, to the extent that we do, because we hope that it will spur the creation and distribution of more works which will enter the public domain as fully and as quickly as possible, since it is only when works are in the public domain that they are of the greatest value to the public. Specifically, we hope it will spur the creation and publication of more works than if we didn't have copyright, with the ideal law being the one that spurs the most but impairs the public the least.

        You're wrong about the market too; most works have a very brief window of copyright related commercial viability. It can be measured in hours to, at most, a few years. (A typical novel, for example, will make most of the copyright related money it will ever make within a couple of years of first being published.) This is why old works are generally available fairly cheaply. Yet people always want the new things. Even if we abolished copyright altogether, people would still want new things.

    • by dryeo (100693) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @03:20PM (#45831541)

      And it was a battle between the elected House of Commons who wanted to have copyright as eternal (the book publishers at this time invented the fiction that it was for the authours) and the unelected House of Lords who didn't and eventually won out with the 14+14 year compromise for "The Advancement of Learning" as the original copyright act included in its title. This is a good example of the problems with (representative) democracy.

    • by JOrgePeixoto (853808) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @03:23PM (#45831557) Journal

      The buggy Slashdot mod system made me mod "overrated" by accident.
      This post will undo it.

  • by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @02:33PM (#45831111)
    The best argument I've heard for changing the laws dealing with public domain in the USA is that in these days of federal budget cutting and decreasing spending, if these copyrights are so valuable then why are they being renewed for free automatically? It would seem logical to make a change where those who want their copyrights to be extended could pay a fee, perhaps fairly large, and fill out some paperwork to get the copyright renewed. If they forget to fill out the forms in time and pay the fee in time, too bad. That's how it was some years ago. If you forgot to renew your copyright in time, you lost it. Congress could enact a sliding scale where the renewal fee increases exponentially. For example, say that all works get an original copy right period of 50 years. Then if renewal is desired, the copyright holder could pay $500,000 for a renewal period of 10 years. If they want the works renewed at the end of that period for another 10 years, the fee goes up to $5 million. The next 10 year period is $50 million. The one after that is $500 million, then $5 billion and so on. Eventually the cost will get prohibitive that nobody will pay it any more and works will enter the public domain. I really do not get how if these works are so valuable that they must be renewed that Congress has to let it be done for free and virtually forever. Unfortunately to date the US Supreme Court has basically ruled "We're not saying that we think that extending copyright is a great idea, but the Constitution does permit it. As long as the termination date is less than 'never', any extension is probably legal." Why is Congress giving away money in renewal fees if these works are truly so valuable that they must remain in copyright longer?
  • by Yakasha (42321) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @02:48PM (#45831239) Homepage
  • by TheloniousToady (3343045) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @03:02PM (#45831365)

    I'd like to see copyright law changed to make orphaned works available to the public. A simple way to do that would be to require a periodic registration (with fee) after an initial implicit registration period. For example, works that are over 20 years old would need to be registered every 5 years at a cost of $100 or they would revert to public domain. Then, services which make public domain works available online would be able to access the registry to determine whether an old work is in the public domain.

    That sort of thing seems politically feasible because it wouldn't disrupt the powerful corporate interests, yet it would release works into the public domain which have been abandoned or don't generate enough income to justify the registration fee.

  • by crunchygranola (1954152) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @03:30PM (#45831611)

    I see a parallel with the Snowden revelations of an out-of-control national security apparatus, which has created a vigorous and still growing push-back against flagrant abuse of the the government's powers (search warrants anyone?).

    The corruption of the law and legal process by corporations to create a copyright regime that defies the U.S. Constitution* has created a widespread (and growing) view that copyright as it now stands is simply wrong - it is straight-out theft of public property for private gain. With corporate ownership of the lawmakers -- and the lawmakers own institutionalized corruption* - there is no immediate prospect of being able to undo this through legislative action. Before that happens there will likely be many more give-a-ways to corporations that will need to be undone.

    Perhaps over the next 20 years we will be able to create movement that restores the rights of the broad public against the spies, CEOs, and Wall Street firms. Trust busting in the Progressive Era was effective only because the leading politician of the day (Teddy Roosevelt) was solidly, vigorously behind it. Without a powerful ally the going will be slow.

    The national security abuse case is a little easier since "only" privacy is at stake, not money. Most congress folk aren't raking in money from spying.

    *Did they amend the Constitution to change the limited copyright explicitly specified therein? Noooo....

    **There are effectively no restrictions on Senators or Congressmen directly profiting from the laws they write; every Senator has a "leadership PAC" slush fund - a legalized bribery vehicle created to nullify anti-corruption laws.

  • by hessian (467078) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @06:00PM (#45832887) Homepage Journal

    If those go public domain, every Ron Paulite will be posting them everywhere.

    We will die in a flood of one-dimensional characters and cardboard-cutout dilemmas.

    Please make sure they never get into the public domain.

Money is the root of all wealth.

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