The Free Expression Policy Project has just published a fully revised and updated edition of "The Progress of Science and Useful Arts" Why Copyright Today Threatens Intellectual Freedom - a summary of the major controversies over file-sharing, fair use, the ever-receding public domain, the "Digital Millennium Copyright Act," and more.
It's available at:
The Progress of Science and Useful Arts
Why Copyright Today Threatens Intellectual Freedom
Posted by Lisa at September 15, 2003 03:48 PM | TrackBack
In all, fourteen amicus briefs on Eldred's side were submitted, with a total of 141 signers. They included groups ranging from the National Writers Union and the College Art Association to the Association of American Physicians & Surgeons and Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility. Their aim was to bring home to the Supreme Court justices the real cultural costs of ever-longer copyright terms, and consequent freezing of the public domain.
The brief from online archiving projects, for example, described how Internet public-domain publishing has revived countless forgotten or hard-to-find works. Archiving projects now "digitize and distribute millions of out-of-copyright books, movies, and music ... materials that commercial publishers, distributors, and rights-holders have effectively abandoned." While media companies that own the copyrights "often let these films decay and books disappear, this material is invaluable to scholars researching our history, artists developing new art forms, and anyone seeking to explore our culture."
To reclaim these works, they must be in the public domain. Finding and paying copyright owners is untenable, given the millions of documents involved. And in any case, the vast majority of works affected by the Sonny Bono law – published more than 70 years ago – "are not available from copyright owners at any price" because the owners cannot be found.