The Ransoming of the Public Domain

May 4, 2004

An excellent summary of Lawrence Lessig‘s concerns about the ransoming of the public domain to Hollywood interests can be found in this article from the UCLA International Institute.

If you’re looking for a short way to explain this to someone who’s not been following it, this might be the piece to use.

Some 98% of all published works or films go out of commercial production after the first year, but are kept out of the public domain for many decades because they are not distinguished from the small number of works that have ongoing commercial value.

That’s each and every year. The vast majority of the creative output of the human race is simply unavailable for an ever-increasing period of time, due to resistance to simple solutions that would still protect any intellectual properties anyone cared enough to protect.

(via TeleRead)

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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The Public Domain You Save May Be Your Own

May 17, 2003

If you’re not seeing this virtually everywhere by the end of the weekend, it’s time to start asking “why not”.

Lawrence Lessig Needs Your Help to support the passage of a new attempt to correct inequities of the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act.  Read this article, and then write your congresscritters.


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