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Public Domain Enhancement Act petition

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the don't-submit-your-other-petitions dept.

United States 669

EricEldred writes "Please sign the petition and support the proposed Public Domain Enhancement Act. See for details. 'This statute would require American copyright owners to pay a very low fee (for example, $1) fifty years after a copyrighted work was published. If the owner pays the fee, the copyright will continue for whatever duration Congress sets. But if the copyright is not worth even $1 to the owner, then we believe the work should pass into the public domain.'" See the brief description of the Act if you aren't familiar with what Eldred and Lessig are proposing.

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looky! (-1, Offtopic)

jargoone (166102) | more than 11 years ago | (#6107995)

a cookie!

Hm... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6108005)

if the copyright is not worth even $1 to the owner, then we believe the work should pass into the public domain

No wonder most open source apps are free.

automate it (4, Insightful)

bluelip (123578) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108006)

Corporations will automate the process so they will never 'forget' to pay the buck.

With the amount of material they generate? (3, Insightful)

oiuyt (128308) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108023)

Most copywritten material ISN'T worth $1. Corporations can't afford to pay $1 for everything.

Re:With the amount of material they generate? (0)

rmadmin (532701) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108052)

What are you talking about? Corperate America has more damn money than you'll ever imagine... and your worried about them paying $1.. pfft!

Re:With the amount of material they generate? (4, Insightful)

Carbonite (183181) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108117)

Corporations can't afford to pay $1 for everything.

Sure they can.

Any corporation that has 100 copyrights can certainly afford $100.

Any corporation that has 1,000 copyrights can certainly afford $1,000.

Any corporation that has 1,000,000 copyrights can certainly afford $1,000,000.

I can't see any value at which a corporation couldn't afford $1 per copyright. Perhaps if it was $10,000/copyright or renewal was required every year (after the first 20 or so). In my opinion the only solution is to reduce the copyright length significantly.

Re:With the amount of material they generate? (4, Interesting)

PetiePooo (606423) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108240)

Most copywritten material ISN'T worth $1. Corporations can't afford to pay $1 for everything.

This is exactly the point. If a corporation can't make a single buck over the next five years on a copyrighted work, then they SHOULD let the copyright lapse and let the work pass into public domain. However, if the copyrighted work is still generating revenue, or they have plans to republish it, then they CAN afford the token fee of $1.


Re:With the amount of material they generate? (1)

York the Mysterious (556824) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108251)

And if they do then this is just a great way to increase corporate taxes. Either way I'd consider it a winner.

Re:automate it (5, Insightful)

diablochicken (445931) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108053)

And that's fine if they do -- if it's worth it to a company to automate the process, more power to them. That's not what this is for.

This is to allow the works of artists and writers who have gone missing to become public domain, so that their books and such don't just sit around collecting dust (and potentially disappearing from the face of the earth). This would allow people to save obscure works by republishing them even if they can't contact the original author to get permission.

This will become more and more important as the term for copyright gets extended indefinitely by congress, and we lose more and more works of brilliance to the dustbin of history.

Re:automate it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6108127)

You hu-mans have such delusions of granduer about your feeble works. Who cares if copies of your "Shake-spear" are still around when the battlefleet arrives in orbit.

Re:automate it (5, Interesting)

PD (9577) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108146)

Don't forget the works of silliness too. There's quite a few pulp novels from 50 years ago that are crumbling or lost, because they were literally printed on cheap paper. These "works of non-brilliance" are still important in their own way.

Re:automate it (2, Interesting)

frieked (187664) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108132)

...and how about advanced payments?

Will there be a part of this law that states the $1 can't be paid until the 50 years is up or almost up or can it be paid in advance... like $5 now for the next 250 years?

Re:automate it (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108137)

Corporations will automate the process of offering $100 for the rights to every item about to go off-copyright, then pay the buck, and then nothing will pass into the public domain.

How about a law that limits copyrights to life of the author and leave it at that. Why should anyone inherit something they didn't create?

Re:automate it (2, Informative)

Surak (18578) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108218)

Because a corporation can be an author and corporations can exist in perpetuity.
In copyright law, the author and the copyright holder are essentially the same thing.

Re:automate it (3, Insightful)

shreak (248275) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108237)

But will it always be a $1? Think about where this money would go. Into the hands of the US government, which means into the budget.

Hmmm... We get about $10000, a year for expireing copyright extension. And these corperations are only paying a 1$ fee to make additional millions? Let's bump it to $1000/renewal and POW an extra 10Mil/year!

At $1000 companies will have to think about what they want to keep.

Sure you'll never see Mickey Mouse go out this way, but that's not the point. The point is there are 1000s of copyrighted things that the owner maintains, "just because". After all, if there's no cost to maintain ownership, why not maintain it?


Re:automate it (3, Insightful)

WPIDalamar (122110) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108263)

Copyright protect the small guy too. It's more the act of doing *something*, not the associated cost that makes this a good idea.

effffffff (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6108008)


flap flap flap (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6108015)

pissing on a dead pussy

Tacit approval (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6108022)

Can't this be taken as a sign of tacit approval in the life-plus-fifty copyright that exists now? Is that what we want?

Re:Tacit approval (4, Informative)

bmongar (230600) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108055)

I don't think it is supporting that per say, as much as agreeing that congress has the constitutional right to set the copyright duration, something that has already been upheld in court. This is just a way of saying if the copyright owners don't care about the work anymore why let it disappear.

Re:Tacit approval (1)

CGP314 (672613) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108118)

It's better than nothing.

even worse... (4, Insightful)

djtack (545324) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108188)

Can't this be taken as a sign of tacit approval in the life-plus-fifty copyright that exists now? Is that what we want?

Even worse, it seems like it could open the door for endless copyright, as long as the owner continues to pay the fee. It seems to imply that only works with no commercial value are worthy of the public domain. This makes me a little uneasy...

It's already been approved. (3, Insightful)

diablochicken (445931) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108217)

You're not going to change the laws that have already been passed -- there's too much money at stake and the lobbies are too powerful.

At least this would mitigate some of the damage that's been done by allowing important, un-shepherded works to pass into public domain before the paper they're printed on crumbles into dust.

Is it a perfect solution? No. But it does addres many of the major problems of Infinite Copyright.

Re:Tacit approval (1)

Phreakiture (547094) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108245)

No. This is not life-plus-fifty; it is fifty from the date of publication, not fifty from the death of the author.

won't fly (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6108024)

this won't ever happen, it actually makes sense and would benefit someone besides "big corporations".

Re:won't fly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6108066)

Really? Please explain this "benefit".

I'm not sure how well that would work... (4, Insightful)

Mysticalfruit (533341) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108030)

Paying a very low fee would make it non trivial for a company to just perpetuate it's copyrights.

As it stands a few companies have tens of thousands of copyrights that their just sitting on for the sake of others not having access to them.

If you set some low fee, it would just legitimize their sqandering of literary material.

Re:I'm not sure how well that would work... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6108097)

The idea is that paying the $very_low_fee would keep the copyright active for whatever limit Congress has set. The idea is NOT that you can keep pumping $very_low_fee in every 50 years to keep the copyright going perpetually. Although, the way Congress keeps expanding copyright, perpetual may be an accurate description.

That's not the point tho... (4, Insightful)

unicorn (8060) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108103)

This isn't about legitimzing the length of the terms.

It's about making it so that works that the copyright holder doesn't care about anymore, lapse into public domain after 50 years.

As things stand now, the copyright is in force for the current excessively long term, even when the rights-holder is dead, buried, and forgotten. This is a minor tweak, to make it perfectly legitimate to re-publish "abandoned" works after 50 years, rather than the longer terms now in effect.

Re:I'm not sure how well that would work... (3, Insightful)

diablochicken (445931) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108116)

Companies are not the only entities that create copyrighted material -- individuals do, too. A small fee makes sure that you're not punishing people who can't afford to keep their works copyrighted. Making the fee large would actually work in favor of the large companies, since they would be the only ones with the money to pay hefty fees.

You miss the point (2, Informative)

MarcQuadra (129430) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108239)

A lot of work out there is NOT owned by MegaCorps, but it can't be easily used unless you track down the artist's manager's wive's new husband who holds the current copyright as part of some stupid inheritance tree. This would put an end to that.

Re:I'm not sure how well that would work... (1)

Zathrus (232140) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108246)

As opposed to their fee-free (after initial filing, which this doesn't change) squandering right now?

Frankly, there's no way this can decrease the amount of information in the public domain... the copyright laws are already set at their absurd 90 year durations right now - this bill wouldn't increase that. In fact, it would chop a full 40 years off of any copyrighten work that wasn't worth $1 and some time to extend.

Oh sure, argue that it validates the term... it doesn't. If anything it highlights the absurdity of it. Lessig has already tried to get the laws changed through the courts. That failed. The only way to change them now is through legislation - and this is a good first step.

Still not a solution .... (4, Insightful)

AlabamaMike (657318) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108034)

So what? $1 after 50 years?!?! The problem still exists. Congress will grant copyright extensions ad infinitum to these companies who ensure that the members get elected. The concept of "public domain" has been completely eroded the last 70 years, and during our lifetime it will continue to erode. The framers of the constituion had the right idea, but their successors have perverted the concept to where it's no longer of any value. Long live piracy! ;)

Re:Still not a solution .... (1)

kenthorvath (225950) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108107)

Agreed. An act like this would be somewhat helpful. At least some newer works would make it into the public domain in our lifetime. But the only practical way to fight this unreasonable extension of copyright act is civil disobedience. I propose that we all get together on one day and publish the lyrics to "Happy Birthday" or some other copyrighted work on our websites or on flyers and distribute them with an explanation of what it is we are fighting. Let the public really see how this affects them.

Re:Still not a solution .... (1)

gooberguy (453295) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108149)

Hey, at least it's a start. It's better than nothing.

copyright automation and patents (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6108035)

I believe I am going to patent the idea of automated fund submission for copyright extension.

Re:copyright automation and patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6108133)

Too bad you posted A.C., I'm going to claim it was my idea!

Re:copyright automation and patents (1)

MadCow42 (243108) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108202)

Go ahead... your patent will run out before the first 50-year period comes up for renewal (assuming this is not retroactive, which it probalby would be).



Copyrights are Dumb (-1)

Hawk357 (200208) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108039)

Copyrights are dumb, that is all.

A novel approach (4, Insightful)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108040)

This could the small end of the wedge that actually has a chance of sneaking in. By initially focusing on material that isn't comercially valued, this aims to get the maximum material entered into the public domain with the minimum resistance from the copyright holders. I, for one, am signing right up.

Re:A novel approach (1)

frumiousbar (587038) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108125)

I agree. I work for a company that lives and dies based on copyrighted material, and I think this is a great idea. There will be a cost associated with tracking copyrighted material so the true price to maintain a work is more than $1. The part I like is that it allows copyright owners to relinquish control of works that cost more to maintain then they generate in revenue, without risking everything else.

Re:A novel approach (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6108212)

The next step is to move the date up, to say 5 years, then implement an exponential fee:

$1 after 5 years
$2 after 6 years
$4 after 7 years

Eliminates ludicrious copyrights in a heck of a big hurry.

Infeasible (5, Insightful)

howardjp (5458) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108041)

This is completely at odds with current copyright law. Copyright law, under the Berne Convention, grants copyright immedietly upon creation of the work. There is no regisration requirement. Requiring registration on the backend is nonsensical and the Copyright Office will be unable to validate existence of a valid copyright when granting the extension.

For instance, what prevents me from paying the dollar and renewing the copyright on "The Wizard of Oz" (movie, not the book, the book is public domain)?

Re:Infeasible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6108131)

I love the fact parent was moderated offtopic for being dead-on right and against the wishes of the Slashbots. Losers.

Re:Infeasible (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108177)

This isn't offtopic.

He has a point, this only works with registered works. Works that are covered under automatic copyrights will be a difficult thing to deal with under this system.

Re:Infeasible (2, Insightful)

PD (9577) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108225)

1) Moderators on crack - this is not offtopic.

2) The same mechanism that prevents you from selling your own VHS tapes of The Wizard of Oz will prevent you from renewing the copyright does not reassign the copyright. The copyright office will simply register that 1$ has been paid for the Wizard of Oz. If you want to send them a dollar, they'll record that fact. It won't assign the copyright to you.

What will this accomplish? (1)

neuro.slug (628600) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108042)

The generated funds will be miniscule... I don't see how this would really benefit anyone. And I doubt this tiny fee would even cover the implementation and enforcement of this new proposal.

-- n

Re:What will this accomplish? (1)

Bill Currie (487) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108214)

Simple: if you want to keep the copyright longer than 50 years, you have to do something about it (my take is the automatic initial copyright still stands). The $1 extention fee is a token used to show interest (I know there's a legal term for it, but IANAL:) Very often you'll find contracts where $1 is exchanged for some goods and/or services. eg, the copyright assigment contract for submitting code to FSF owned projects and I seem to remember at least one such item when I bought my house.

The generated funds is totally irrelevant. The main point is to force a paper trail documenting the transaction. $1 is a trivial amount, especially for big companies (eg, Disney), but it's likely to cost them a minimum of $100 per copyrighted item for paperwork handling fees. Then there's the fact they have to keep track of which items are about to expire. I'm sure it can get expensive pretty quickly for an entity with 100s-1000s of items.

Too Long (2, Insightful)

Davak (526912) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108058)

To allow unused copyrighted works to enter the public domain after 50 years, while allowing copyright owners the full protection of the established copyright term.

Why wait 50 years? Heck if I have to pay to renew my domain name every few years... why not a copyright, too? Also, there's no reason why it should have to cost any money at all. Just fill out the paper work every 5-10 years.

Likewise, if somebody in your behalf (children, their children, etc.) continues this tradition... I see no reason why the copyright should not legally be able to be maintained forever.


one reason (3, Insightful)

knowledgepeacewi (523787) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108195)

progress...If you allow copyright to avoid the public domain you end up with a nation of lazy idiots living off the endeavors of their ancestors.
The society can't progress if the sons and daughters of our most brilliant citizens don't need to contribute.

Re:Too Long (1)

mjmalone (677326) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108233)

You would have to ammend the constitution for copyrights to extend forever, copyright protection is derived from the constitutional phrasing that original content should be pretected for a limited period of time...

Re:Too Long (1)

praedor (218403) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108255)

No. The children of a "creator" didn't do squat but spurt out the creator's penis or get released from the creator's ovaries. They contributed nothing and get nothing. 14 years. Period. The Founders had it right, keep it the way they intended. Any extensions are bullcrap nonsense.

Re:Too Long (1)

aborchers (471342) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108261)

Likewise, if somebody in your behalf (children, their children, etc.) continues this tradition... I see no reason why the copyright should not legally be able to be maintained forever.

In the US, the reason would be the Constitution, which wisely states that copyrights are of limited duration.

Copyrights are not property rights, but a limited monopoly qranted by the government to creators in order to incentivize creative work. The payback for this protection is that the works must ultimately be given back to the public domain for the enrichment of society as a whole.

What's the point? (2, Informative)

Carbonite (183181) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108061)

Companies will automate the process so their copyrights will last as long as possible. It will only be the occasional person who forgets to renew. There's a six month grace period and the fee is one dollar so there's no reason why anyone wishing to renew can't.

I fail to see the point of this legislation. Is it currently impossible to voluntarily move a copyrighted work into the public domain?

Re:What's the point? (1)

howardjp (5458) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108100)

That's actually the best part. Mickey Mouse still generates a profit, despite being 76 years old. There is good reason for Walt Disney Co. to continue the copyright, but the lone person, who wrote J Random Book in 1930 who died with no heirs has no reason to worry about his copyright, despite the fact the information in the book is probably useful to someone.

probably not effective (4, Insightful)

DarkSkiesAhead (562955) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108062)

I doubt this would be effective because corporate copyright holders have already shown that they will fight to keep control of material which is no longer directly profitable. The issue is that if more material went into the public domain then the public would have free material to watch/listen instead of paying for something newer. It would be worth it for the MPAA/RIAA to renew for $1 or even $100 just to prevent this. What we need is a law setting a hard cap on the length of a copyright, and for a much more reasonable period of time.

So we're going to convolute the system more? (5, Interesting)

SuperDuG (134989) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108073)

Let's make it simple, you get it for 50 years to horde and license and then WHAMMO, it's societies to be bettered and shared. You had your time to profit and since we allotted you the time to profit from it we now as society are going to keep it as our own. If in 50 years you haven't profitted from it, then we aren't going to see a use for it either, so it's not our concern and it's dead.

This whole forever copyright thing is a pain in the ass and quite frankly a load of crap. If you want the legal protection of a copyright then you need to follow the rules, not keep profiting and profiting on it, while society is at your whim. Wuit convoluting an already convoluted system. There are other options, don't bother copyrighting something and then you don't have to worry about it being public domain in 50 years, you can keep it a secret forever.

Online petitions also don't work, they're too easy to fradulate, if you're really concerned call your representative and talk to them about it, don't put your email address on a weblog and think you've done your civic duty.

But that will never pass Congress, and this might. (3, Insightful)

sulli (195030) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108136)

Think of this as the copyright equivalent to the partial-birth abortion ban, or medical marijuana. (I'm talking political strategy only - please don't flame me on those particular subjects, thanks.) Start with something simple and relatively inoffensive, and then expand it from there.

Either it passes, in which case the law is at least improved from the status quo, or it fails due to strong opposition, in which case the opponents are smoked out and shown to be fools in the public eye.

You're missing the point (5, Insightful)

cleveland61 (321761) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108079)

Think about how many works are *lost* to the public because it is no longer profitable for the owner to keep them published. Out of print books, movies and recordings should be in the public domian if the copyright owner isn't willing to keep them available for whatever reason. For those owners that wish to maintain thier copyrights, they can. But for others who don't care, why shouldn't the public get a crack at these?

Re:You're missing the point (0)

ColdGrits (204506) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108134)

"But for others who don't care, why shouldn't the public get a crack at these?"

Or, to put it another way (and I know this will be unpopular), why SHOULD the public get the works?

The public are not OWED the works at all.

Sure, it might be nice if the works were placed in teh oublic domain, BUT there is no automatic right for that to happen early, and I don't see any justification for such a demand either.

Re:You're missing the point (1)

sqlrob (173498) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108213)

Why should it happen any *later* than the 14 years originally specified?

Re:You're missing the point (1)

Not Quite Jake (315382) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108208)

Well what happens then is they just wait for a special anniversary (25th, 50th...) and release a special edition print or cd or dvd and charge extra for it just so people can say "oooh i remember that but i could never get my hands on it, lemme pay an arm and a leg for it." It's like what Disney has been doing with their animated movies: "These will only be available for a limited time and then will be locked up in the vault, so get 'em while you can" and what they fail to mention is that they will release another special edition in 5 or 10 years.

Re:You're missing the point (1)

dfn5 (524972) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108235)

Then why 50 years? If the sole purpose of this is to get things the owners don't care about why not make the time frame more reasonable, like 10 years. That is plenty of time for whoever owns it to make their money by which time sales have dropped off and they don't care so it falls into PD. Then after 10 years have the $1 renewal occur every year until they stop caring.

Personally, I think a copyright renewal fee of $50,000, which increases every year with inflation, would really make owners think deeply as to whether they care or not. Think of it as the Public getting reinbursed for the copyrighted material that they are denied access to.

Hmmm, nice idea. (1, Redundant)

FroMan (111520) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108081)

Except, it really isn't too difficult for Disney or any other company to handle this process fairly automatically.

Maybe a last sale date would be a better method. For instance, if a book is not released within the last 5 years, it enters a public domain license. Or similar with a movie or software.

Basically its the same idea. If something copyrighted is not worth making money with, it enters public domain. Ofcourse then Disney would then be able to release Mickey Mouse every five years to not lose copyright, but then the public has access to that.

I know there are a number of CDs that I simpley don't have access to since they are out of print. This would allow me to have access to 80's hair bands that no longer get any money from their product.

Re:Hmmm, nice idea. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6108166)

hehe... how does that moderation work for you?

Limited usefulness (3, Insightful)

oiuyt (128308) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108082)

This does nothing for the abusive cases where the corporations are getting ad infinitum extensions.

It is useful for removing restrictions where the restrictions are merely there by default and not intent. A book that was written in the 40's where the author (and/or his/her heirs) doesn't care about the copywrite. Under the proposed system this would drop into PD even without the CW holder explicitly putting it there.

That's a fairly minimal benefit, but at least it IS a benefit and by not destroying the money-maker (extending the rights period) perhaps this could get passed? No, why bother, it's still an added hassle for the corporations that are controlling the law changes.

Cost for Jim Crow laws? (0, Troll)

kaltkalt (620110) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108087)

To me, this is no different than charging KKK members $1 to enforce local Jim Crow laws (if they don't pay $1 for each law every $50 years, then the law comes off the books). Would this be a valid way of getting rid of Jim Crow laws? No way, I'm afraid to say.

Re:Cost for Jim Crow laws? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6108153)

You say that like the KKK and Jim Crow laws are bad. Really people, sometimes I just don't understand you!

perhaps the fee should double every few years (4, Insightful)

tuffy (10202) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108104)

If the fee started at $1 after fifty years and doubled every 2-3 years after, eventually it would be highly unprofitable for the work to remain copyrighted. Which would encourage artists/companies/whoever to create new works. Which was the whole point of copyright to begin with.

Re:perhaps the fee should double every few years (1)

Carbonite (183181) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108232)

I'd like to see a Moore's law type progession of the fee, with it doubling every 18 months. Most of the value comes from the initial years anyway. I don't see how retaining ownership right 70 years after creation promotes new works.

hehe (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6108109)

slashdot: " All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective owners. Comments are owned by the Poster."

All trolls will be broke in 50 years, if they want to keep their copyrights

Sounds stupid to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6108115)

Sounds stupid to me. And it seems that whenever laws sound stupid, they serve as loopholes for corporate weasels.

Re:Sounds stupid to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6108172)

Also, when a law sounds good, it acts as a loophole for corporate weasels.
This really sounds like a "create a job for Cousin Ernie" amendment. Ernie files the paperwork and keeps the $1-an-app.

I'd rather see "use it or lose it" (2, Interesting)

eldurbarn (111734) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108120)

I'd rather see "use it or lose it". If something that is copyright is not available from the copyright holder, it should (sooner, rather than later) be legal for it to be made available by someone else.

While I'm at it: I think that the creator of a work should get the copyright to their creation back if the folks who bought the copyright are not distributing it.

Re:I'd rather see "use it or lose it" (2, Insightful)

travail_jgd (80602) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108257)

That's not a good solution.

It's possible now for companies to keep their content (books and CDs) available for purchase either online, or in small production run printings. "Use it or lose it" would mean that the copyright on those works would never expire (much like the current system).

Don't limit "distribution" to dead-tree or plastic disk versions collecting dust on store shelves.

Hmm... (1)

GreyOrange (458961) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108121)

Not a bad idea, not really a good idea either, but it is very fair will net a positive score for the public domain campaign. The only thing bad is it might prevent stronger legislation because politicians and companies might state "Well we let that 50 year law pass, can't let a 25 year law get because it will open the doors to wide".

Will this work? (1)

Kadagan AU (638260) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108129)

I haven't paid much attention to this lately, but last I knew (a few years back), web petitions were worthless. Is this different now? What's to stop the same person from signing the petition 5,000 times? It seems that a web petition is nearly as inacurate as a slashdot poll.

  • This whole thing is wildly inaccurate. Rounding errors, ballot stuffers, dynamic IPs, firewalls. If you're using these numbers to do anything important, you're insane.


CowboyNeal Option (1)

oiuyt (128308) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108162)

I went to sign the petition but couldn't find the CowboyNeal option!

Just like mineral rights in some states (5, Informative)

Aging_Newbie (16932) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108130)

Mineral rights expire if not renewed regularly. If the rights are not worth renewing they don't persist forever. Systems that automatically clean themselves up are a Good Thing (TM)

IANAL but I bought some land and found out that nugget along the way

50 years ... (2, Interesting)

p0rnking (255997) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108143)

If I design/create something, why should there be a time limit on it? It's 100% mine, and no one should be lining up at the door 50 years from now, waiting for my ownership to expire.

It's not like I'm renting something for 50 years. It's mine, I should be able to whatever I want with it, for as long as I want with it. And If I so happen to croak, then it should be passed on.

Reservations (1)

DeltaSigma (583342) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108148)

I intend to whole-heartedly support this petition.

However I don't think it will pass. I doubt if those $1.00 bills coming from all the companies and people that retain the copyrights would cover the cost of rechecking every copyright for its applicability every year.

Of course, I don't understand the infrastructure of the copyright office, but I imagine the passing of such an act would require the addition of many new employees and probably more funding in general, which this one dollar scheme will not cover.

Yet, I wouldn't mind seeing my tax money go to fund this positive movement for the regulation of the copyright mess we're in now. So, like I said, I'll still support it. Just doubt it would make it no matter how much support it gets.

This could be tricky. (5, Insightful)

AnriL (657435) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108157)

I see a number of potential issues with the idea. First of all is the obvious automation of the renewal process which will make it easy to automatically extend the copyright. However, the $1 (or whatever) fee is per work, that is, a fee to keep a single artwork copyrighted. This is all fine and dandy for bookwriters and moviemakers with an expected total of works in the count of 10 to 20 in a lifetime. But consider photographers, who shoot thousands of photos a year, or quite likely much more. Do they have to pay for each of their photos?

Stock photography might radically change in view of this idea ...

Of course, you say, but the photographer will then have to choose among his best work and pick the ones for which he wants to keep the copyright! Blah. You can't resolve it like this. Suddenly you'll have poor artists who will be exploited because they didn't pay their copyright fee, and you'll have rich art whores who'll pay to have every single piece of their crap copyrighted.

It won't work. You might as well decide to have the copyright last ten times as long as it took to create the particular artwork. So if it's a photo, say ten days at most. If it's a book, 10 years or thereabouts.

That big sucking sound you hear.... (0, Redundant)

dacarr (562277) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108159) the sound of the servers going down due to the Slashdot Effect.

dumbest slashdot story EVER (-1, Troll)

Pave Low (566880) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108160)

what the hell is going to be accomplished if this becomes law? Do you really think more works will become public domain because the owner won't pay 1 fuckin dollar? get real here.

i've seen some pretty dumb petitions, I can't believe this one made slashdot. Of course, when you have michael posting the story, you can't rule anything out.

If you want to sign petitions, this site has them all. []

Re:dumbest slashdot story EVER (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6108192)


Hey look, a worthless online petition. (4, Insightful)

raehl (609729) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108169)

Online petitions are worth the paper they are printed on. They're for idiots who want to feel like they're contributing to some cause, but are too lazy to actually do anything to contribute.

If you want something, quit copping out and write or call your representative. Or better yet, pay them a visit when they're at their home office.

Even better... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6108173)

If a corporation fails to remedy, after repeated warnings, an illegal monopoly with a copyrighted work, it shall pass into the public domain.

This seems kind of weak (1)

Ignorant Aardvark (632408) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108183)

I imagine it happens quite often that a copyright holder dies before 50 years elapse after he files for the original copyright. What then? Can his relatives make the payment, or is the copyright doomed?

And what's the point of the measly $1.00 fine? Basically everyone would pay that fee, unless the aforementioned case is true - they are dead.

what if i aint got a dolla? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6108184)

nt rocks

fee should increase with time (2, Insightful)

ChristTrekker (91442) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108186)

Make it $1 for the 51st year, and double every year thereafter. Some posters have already mentioned the "automated copyright for perpetuity" problem. If the copyright is still worth $1M after 71 years, fine, let them keep it. If it's still worth $1G after 81 years, fine, let them keep it. But copyright in perpetuity? C'mon...

Thoughts and ideas are not born in a vacuum. The public domain contributed something to those thoughts and ideas, it's only fair to give back eventually. That's the whole idea of mentioning "limited times" in A1S8. Personally I think 50 years is already too long, 25 years should be sufficient.

Public domain in 10 years (1)

MCZapf (218870) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108191)

I propose that copyright works enter the public domain after ten years. That's more than enough time to make a living from an artistic work. If you can't make money from a song, movie, book, etc. in ten years, you probably aren't going to make much at all.

How many blockbuster movies break even the first weekend? Not many, I know, but it's something to consider. Why do we need such long copyright terms when artists are paid so much so soon after a work is released.

When this plan is shot down, as a compromise, let's propose the one mentioned in the article.

Less than 2000 sigs? (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108196)

Can't we do a little better than that?


Seems rather pointless to me... (1)

unicorn (8060) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108209)

So if a copyright holder is so un-enthusiastic about his property that he can't be bothered to pay $1 to maintain it, what are the odds he'll want to pay a lawyer to go after you, if you just ignore the copyright on it completely?

Nah, I won't sign it... (1)

anthony_dipierro (543308) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108219)

Copyright shouldn't last even 5 years, let alone 50. This proposal treats a heart-attack with a band-aid.

Signatures pouring in (0)

Phreakiture (547094) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108221)

Just for kicks and giggles, after signing the petition, I went to the last page of signatures and hit reload every five seconds or so for about a minute. I saw between one to five new signatures show up with each reload. For that matter, the web site says 'over 500' and when I signed my signature landed somewhere in the 1500's. This is clearly a popular move.

Dumb idea (-1, Flamebait)

Jesus IS the Devil (317662) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108222)

Again the would-be socialists have come up with a bird-brained idea based on "good" intentions. Has it ever occurred to these guys where this money would go to? Out of a month, I have to work a whole damn week for free just for the government, and now this? If anything, we should all have learned that government is one of the world's most inefficient entities, what with their pork-barrel spending, the $600 toilets, lack of competition and accountability, etc.

I hope these guys also realize that the big corporations will have no trouble paying this fee. The true victims are the little guys doing hard work. You think Disney will even flinch when paying to keep the rights of Steamboat Willie in perpetuity?

Again I stress, out here in the REAL world, intentions don't matter. It's all about the end result that counts.

This would be a disaster (0)

corebreech (469871) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108236)

The premise is flawed. Just because only 2% of works produced nearly a century ago are still commercially viable today doesn't mean this will be the case in the future.

Much of the material we're talking about has literally deteriorated due to the passage of time. No such deterioration takes place in the digital age.

This would essentially create perpetual copyrights.

This is a very bad idea.

Do NOT sign the petition!!!! (1)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108238)

This is exacly what Disney and the entire copyright industry wants. They get to keep copyrights forever and we get shafted.

I say we fight for the real public domain and settle for nothing less. If this compromise gets passed we'll never get a chance to get the public domain back.

Consequences for copyleft (GPL) (1)

zmedico (565341) | more than 11 years ago | (#6108241)

I would sign if the copyright turned into a copyleft rather than public domain.
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