Copyright week: using and losing the public domain


The interesting thing to me is that this suggests the original copyright term of 14 years (with an option to renew once for another 14) was about right.

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If we made the simple change of requiring rights-holders to pay a small fee to renew their copyright every year, 90% of copyrighted works would revert to the public within a decade, most within a couple of years. It’s a fair tradeoff. Rights-holders can continue to enjoy exclusive sales of profitable works, which will presumably persuade them to produce more such works, while the public will gain immense numbers of unprofitable works that would otherwise languish unseen, unloved and out-of-print.

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