Lesig Hits the Nail on the Head on Copyright Reform

Wired 13.01: VIEW: Larry Lesig has hit the nail on the head with his current article up at Wired Magazine on copyright reform. The U.S. has too long indiscrimately extended copyright protection to non economically viable artistic works.

To allow non economically viable work to remain locked up does a huge disservice to art, information and to the American public.

Lesig’s solution is simple. Allow copyright protection to folks who pay a small fee to renew their copyright. Require the rest of copyrighted material to enter into the public domain.

“The Sonny Bono Act, for example, extended terms for works from as far back as 1923, even though, as Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer estimated in Eldred v. Ashcroft, 98 percent of the oldest works are no longer commercially available.

It would be easy for governments to narrow term extension to those who want it by requiring copyright holders to pay a small fee. Even a very small fee would filter out the vast majority of works from automatic term extension. Most would enter the public domain immediately. Yet even this idea is ignored. Who can hear reason when billions are about to be wiped from the books?”

There is a vast public benefit that would be brought about, even more so today with the technological tools to leverage access to public domain works, with little to no economic disadvantage to artists and content creators. Why our legislators and public representatives are not pursuing this immense public benefit is beyond me.