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Reclaim the Public Domain

Stanford Law professor and Electronic Frontier Foundation member Dr. Larry Lessig has submitted a bill to congress that would fix the problem of determining copyrights on older printed materials. This is an important bill. If it passes, it will dramatically increase the ease with which materials may be published to the Internet and make more valuable information available to the world.


I think this is a pretty fair setup...

One solution in particular that we ask Congress to consider is the Public Domain Enhancement Act. See http://eldred.cc 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.

This legislation would strengthen the public domain without burdening copyright owners. It would also help clarify rights over copyrighted material, which in turn would enable reuse of that material. The law could thus help restore balance to the protection of copyright, and support the public domain.

If the holders of the copyright want it to continue all they would have to do is pay $1, but if they don't even care enough for $1 then copyright will lapse so that people can start using the information.

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