Only weeks remain until America's Public Domain begins to grow again, for the first time in 21 years!

Originally published at:


you jinxed it.


Not to harsh all the nice, but …

Even after January – for that matter, even after 2028 – Congress could go back and extend copyright retroactively. Again.

That question was litigated twenty years ago and sanity lost.


This makes my heart swole

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What makes you think captain asshole and his army of corporate shills would do that?

Don’t worry, you can be sure that the lobbyists will get to Big Orange and have that fixed post haste.

One thing that provoked this article was an Ars Technica story in early 2018 that suggested none of the usual copyright maximalists and corporate entities that fight for such were raising an effort this year. I tracked this across 2018, and sent out queries and had some quiet conversations in preparing this article. Nobody has a whiff that Disney, the RIAA, the MPAA, other media companies, etc., have any interest in another extension.

The Author’s Guild, which has typically argued in favor of lengthy protections for its members (with some exceptions) told me that 95 years was long enough. They were the only party willing to go on the record.

There are reasons for this. One is that Disney discovered copyright maximalism means Disney is paying (sometimes expensively) for rights that it licensed for 20 more years. In a very complicated copyright suit that was resolved in 1996, an appeals court agreed that Bambi, for which Disney has paid licensing fees since it released that film, was not in the public domain as Disney tried to argue. In fact, it was found to have been copyrighted in the U.S. in 1926. Disney’s support of the Sonny Bono law meant another 20 years of paying those rights (through Dec. 31, 2021.)

There’s also no political will. It’s hard to make the case that copyright isn’t long enough, and there are now large forces—including nearly trillion-dollar companies like Google—that lobby and solicit support in favor of fair use and other matters.

It’s not impossible this will be raised in the future, but no law will pass this year, and once the floodgates open on January 1, it will be even more difficult to obtain the political will to move forward. Democrats are not great about copyright, but progressive Dems tend to be better than establishment ones, so it’s very unlikely in the upcoming session any effort made to extend copyright would gain any traction towards majority, even if it could be introduced to the appropriate committee.

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