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Exclusive Rights or Public Domain?

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Exclusive Rights or Public Domain?2002-12-03 23:59
by Flemming Funch

Lawrence Lessig talks about the 1976 Copyright Act which, amongst other things, greatly extended the previous length of copyrights. A 1998 U.S. law extended them further. See timeline. Big publishers and media companies are perfectly happy with that, wanting to keep their own copyrights for as long as possible, claiming exclusive rights would be the only way of assuring that the content would get distributed. Nowadays, with the Internet, that would in many areas be a blatant lie. For example, the U.S. Copyright Office and IMBD say there are close to 37,000 movies released in the period 1927-46. Of those only 2,480 are available in any format, which is 6.8%. In other words 93.2% is not available, because it is owned exclusively be somebody who doesn't see any commercial interest in distributing it. As Lessig asks: "Does anyone really doubt the public domain wouldn't do better?"

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