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Won't work, Steve. Have you heard of "books on demand"? A book will be
printed out, one copy just for you, at a high price. So long as the book
is offered, it's in print.

I'd require paying a fee every so often. Alas, the Yale University Press
seems to have just renewed everything, regardless of how many copies it
sells.

I think a deal can be worked out between a foundation and the big
companies to stand aside when it comes to putting old recordings on a
website. I'd hope that in exchange, these companies would lobby Congress
for a general law to put low-value recordings in the public domain by
preempting all other laws.

Frank


On 2003-01-28, [log in to unmask] opined [message unchanged below]:

> see end...
> > Protecting Mickey Mouse at Art's Expense
> > NYT Op-Ed January 18, 2003
> > By LAWRENCE LESSIG
> >
> > STANFORD, Calif.
> >
> > The Supreme Court decided this week that the Constitution
> > grants Congress an essentially unreviewable discretion to
> > set the lengths of copyright protections however long it
> > wants, and even to extend them.
> >
> > While the court was skeptical about the wisdom of the
> > extension, seven justices believed it was not their role to
> > second-guess "the First Branch," as Justice Ruth Bader
> > Ginsburg put it. As I argued the opposite before the court
> > for my clients, a group of creators and publishers who
> > depend on public domain works, I won't say I agree. But
> > there is something admirable in the court acknowledging and
> > respecting limits on its own power.
> >
> > Still, missing from the opinion was any justification for
> > perhaps the most damaging part of Congress's decision to
> > extend existing copyrights for 20 years: the extension
> > unnecessarily stifles freedom of expression by preventing
> > the artistic and educational use even of content that no
> > longer has any commercial value. As one dissenter, Justice
> > Steven G. Breyer, estimated, only 2 percent of the work
> > copyrighted between 1923 and 1942 continues to be
> > commercially exploited (for example, the early Mickey Mouse
> > movies, whose eminent entry into the public domain prompted
> > Congress to act in the first place).
> >
> > But to protect that tiny proportion, the remaining
> > copyrighted works will stay locked up for another
> > generation. Thus a museum that wants to produce an Internet
> > exhibition about the New Deal will still need to find the
> > copyright holders of any pictures or sound it wants to
> > include. Or archives that want to release out-of-print
> > books will still need to track down copyright holders of
> > works that are almost a century old.
> >
> > This is a problem that the First Branch could fix without
> > compromising any of the legitimate rights protected by the
> > copyright extension act. The trick is a technique to move
> > content that is no longer commercially exploited into the
> > public domain, while protecting work that has continuing
> > commercial value. The answer is suggested from the law
> > governing patents.
> >
> > Patent holders have to pay a fee every few years to
> > maintain their patents. The same principle could be applied
> > to copyright. Imagine requiring copyright holders to pay a
> > tax 50 years after a work was published. The tax should be
> > very small, maybe $50 a work. And when the tax was paid,
> > the government would record that fact, including the name
> > of the copyright holder paying the tax. That way artists
> > and others who want to use a work would continue to have an
> > easy way to identify the current copyright owner. But if a
> > copyright owner fails to pay the tax for three years in a
> > row, then the work will enter the public domain. Anyone
> > would then be free to build upon and cultivate that part of
> > our culture as he sees fit.
> >
> > None of the supporters of the copyright extension act
> > should have any complaint about such a provision. All of
> > them argued that they needed the term increased so they
> > could continue to get revenue from their works that
> > supported their other artistic endeavors. But if a work is
> > not earning any commercial return, then the extension is
> > pointless. Of course, there may be people who want to keep
> > their work from passing into the public domain, even if it
> > is not commercially exploited. That's why the tax should be
> > low, and should apply only to work that was published. The
> > privacy and control that copyright law gives authors would
> > thus be assured for as long as Congress deems proper.
> >
> > This compromise, of course, puts much less work into the
> > public domain than my clients believed that the framers of
> > the Constitution envisioned. But it would nonetheless make
> > available an extraordinary amount of material. If Congress
> > is listening to the frustration that the court's decision
> > has created, this would be a simple and effective way for
> > the First Branch to respond.
> > Lawrence Lessig is a professor at Stanford Law
> > School.
> There is a very simple fix to all of this, at least for sound recordings
> (it might work for books as well) I call the "Use it or lose it" approach.
> Establish a duration after the expiration of which the copyright holder
> can only maintain his/her/its ownership if the entity is available for
> sale (or lease, etc.) and has been continuously so through the  holder
> or a selected agency thereof. Thereafter, the holder would not lose
> ownership...they would, however, be held to a policy of compulsory
> licensing similar to that which applies to composers and publishers,
> whereby the material could be used on payment of required royalties.
>
> This would avoid the "dog in the manger" situation where a copyright
> holder can say "you CAN'T reissue that...and I WON'T!" thus blocking
> access to the material for current users!
>
> Steven C. Barr
>