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Taking Back the Public Domain

June 4, 2003

Apparently the Reclaim The Public Domain Petition got over 6,000 signatures yesterday

Was one of them yours? It only takes about 30 seconds to do.

For those of you who have no idea what this is about, let me try to lay it out for you here.

The last intellectual work to age its way into public domain was published in the 1920s. Since then, congress has systematically increased the time it takes a work to go into public domain, until we’ve now reached the point where stuff will essentially never go into the public domain.

This is due largely to the lobbying efforts of companies like Disney, who would really prefer that cartoons like “Steamboat Willy” (Mickey Mouse’s first appearance), and other properties that are still making their owners a few dollars do not pass into the public domain.

Yet of course, Disney made its living over the years by retelling public domain works (Sleeping Beauty, etc.) as cartoons.
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