Insomnia (insomnia) wrote,

What next for copyright?

As many of you know, the Supreme Court voted not to overturn the Sonny Bono Act, which gives Disney another twenty years to own the copyright for Mickey Mouse.

So, since the Supreme Court says copyrights can technically be extended into the future ad nauseum (regardless of the actual intent of the people who wrote the Constitution), the big question from a lot of different sources is "what can we do now?"

That answer varies greatly depending on who you ask. Some are advocating civil disobedience. Specifically, on April 15th, the date on which Mickey Mouse was scheduled to go into the public domain prior to the Sonny Bono Act, numerous sites throughout the Internet will intentionally violate Disney's copyright by decorating their sites with the mouse, most likely using icons of mickey behind bars. They are also organizing a worldwide effort to change copyright laws.

Larry Lessig, the lawyer who argued the case before the Supreme Court, has an interesting idea, however. Since only about 2% of all copyrights are of any real commercial value after 50 years, why not make copyright holders pay a fee to renew their copyright every year after 50 years? This would give the public 98% of what the founding fathers of our country said that we should have in the public domain, while still allowing Disney to have their mouse.

Admittedly, this isn't perfect, but it's a *LOT* better than the current status quo, and it might actually allow historians and archivists access to history in a manner timely enough that it may be properly preserved. Papers mold, film degrades, etc. The only way to make sure that our heritage is properly preserved is to do so digitally while the people who might be interested in doing the work are still around. Lessig's solution just might do that...

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