A post in Slashdot points towards an interesting article posted at the Center for the Study of the Public Domain at Duke Law School entitled, “What Could Have Been Entering the Public Domain on January 1, 2012?“. This article gives us an idea of some valuable artistic and scientific works which, for thirty-nine more years the public in general won’t be able to freely use, take advantage of, and build upon, due to the Copyright Act of 1976. Of particular attention is the section “The Public Domain Snatchers” which details what could we as public could exploit right now if the 1976 law wasn’t around.
This is a shame. While I whole-heartily believe that authors and creators should be compensated for their endeavors, I also believe that the general public benefits immensely in several aspects when said author relinquishes some of the his or her grip upon said work at some point. That said, and with what the CSPD notes in the article, I don’t believe that 1976 Copyright Act is that bad. The Act has some interesting features, namely the formal codification of “fair use,” and setting limits based on publication dates rather than renewal terms (although, one might argue that the various extensions made since make this last bit irrelevant).
Cited and relevant works:
- “What Could Have Entered the Public Domain on January 1, 2012? Under the law that existed until 1978… Works from 1955“. The article at the CSPD.
- “What Could Have Been In the Public Domain Today, But Isn’t“. The post over at Slashdot.
- United States Code: Title 17> Chapter 1> § 107 over at Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute site.
- Wikipedia: Copyright Act of 1976.
- Wikipedia: Fair use