Commentary: Public Domain Moratorium Ends

For the First Time in More Than 20 Years, Copyrighted Works Will Enter the Public Domain

Click the heading to link to the Smithsonian Magazine article.

A pox on Disney. That was a “mickey mouse” thing for them to do. As it was, the 1978 term limit gave a great-grandchild born in the year of a creator’s death enough time to become a grandparent. Tacking on the 20 years just added one more generation to an extended family that had already been living on more inherited wealth, earned by its control over its founder’s creation, than they knew what to do with.

As a creator of intellectual property who has registered works for copyright protection, I’ve been a vocal advocate of registration on my blog, as a means to help limit the piracy and plagiarism that desktop publishing has made so easy. But the extension meant that books which have gone out of print have stayed out of print, meaning that, as the old copies fell apart and were discarded by libraries, they lost readership. And to a person whose readership can be counted on the fingers of one hand, that’s appalling. What’s more, the hiatus has put a serious cramp in my research efforts.

So I’m one of those “fierce advocates” who agrees that 95 years of inaccessibility is enough. More than enough.


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