Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Sunday, June 1, 2003

How To Get Public Domain Back In Shape

Lawrence Lessig, noted copyright scholar and public domain activist reminds you how important to promote new solutions and prompt action to counter the enormous resistance built to protect vested interests against even the simplest, most innocuous changes to copyright law.

Copyright Term Deregulation Act

"It's bizzare to think that current law works against recycling throwaways.

And even more amazing to think of all the latent economic growth that's possible from enabling the public domain. I am writing my congresswomen about the potential economic impact of fair rights.

...The idea is a simple one:

Fifty years after a work has been published, the copyright owner must pay a $1 maintanence fee. If the copyright owner pays the fee, then the copyright continues. If the owner fails to pay the fee, the work passes into the public domain.

Based on historical precedent, we expect 98% of copyrighted works would pass into the public domain after just 50 years.

They could keep Mickey for as long as Congress lets them.
But we would get a public domain...

We need your help to resist this now.

(They have already gotten a 20 year extension of all copyrights just so 2% can benefit; and now they object to paying just $1 for that benefit, so that no one else might compete with them.)"

Read more on this at Lawrence Lessig's weblog.



On the other hand Doc Searl's in his fascinating weblog states under the heading "The Whatever License":

"A while back I decided that I didn't want to reserve any rights with this blog, allowing all of it to fall into the public domain like snow on the water. (In fact I'm amazed that more of us don't do that, but, whatever.) This means its license is a Public Domain Dedication."

As a matter of fact, nonetheless Creative Commons has created an effective and ethical DRM (digital rights management system) "if you look at the list of the eleven available Creative Commons Licenses, Public Domain Dedication is not among them."

"It's not enough to say unmanaged rights are not the concern of a rights management system. You've got to say when that content isn't managed at all, and doesn't need to be, by anybody, ever.

In a free society, the choice not to restrict must be at least as important as with the choice to restrict. That's why I believe we need to build our DRM systems with at least one setting that leaves all the valves open."

Where do you stand?

Comments required.

Readers' Comments    
2003-06-01 15:33:13

Josef Hasslberger

I like Doc Searl's comment on unmanaged rights. There should definitely be a choice of dedicating one's works to the public domain.

I have encountered the same problem in the area of patents.

Anything not patented is potentially patentable by someone else, UNLESS there is clear evidence (found by the patent examiners) that the invention has been in the public domain for some time. But how does it get into the public domain?

Only by publication that is generally accessible. If not published, it's subject to being hijacked by someone who would like to keep it for profit or just for plain anti-social hiding it away and preventing others from ever making use of it.

Not an ideal situation, so yes, unmanaged rights deserve to be treated as a option of choice of the author/inventor.


posted by Robin Good on Sunday, June 1 2003, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.




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