June 3, 2003

Eldred Petition

Larry Lessig isn’t one to sit on his butt after a defeat. After he lost his Supreme Court case earlier this year, challenging the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, he set right to work on a different tactic — fight laws with laws. He devised the idea of the “Public Domain Enhancement Act”, which would allow the longer copyright limits as laid out in the CTEA to be upheld, but only if the copyright holder took active steps to renew the copyright. A work would lapse into the public domain after 50 years, but the holder could be granted an extension for a trivial fee — Lessig is proposing one dollar. That way, the few works over 50 years old that are still valuable to their owner (Mickey Mouse cartoons, the Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind) would still be easily protected, while the millions upon millions of other works from that era would be released to the public domain, where they would be far more valuable.

Larry is pushing hard to get this bill introduced into Congress. He has a web page outlining all the latest developments, as well as more specifics on the details of the bill itself. And just today he started an online petition to measure the level of public support for the bill. I signed the petition about fifteen minutes ago, #517, and already there have been nearly a hundred signatures after mine. As of right now there are over 600 signatures, but it needs more than that. And I’m sure it will get them. So I want everyone reading this who cares about the public domain to go there and sign it. and then write a letter to your senators urging them to either introduce the bill or support it once it is introduced. I’ll probably write letters, but I’m not sure what good it will do. Every time I write to the Republican Senator from Nevada, I get a form letter back stating his position on the issue. And it’s usually the exact opposite of where I stand. At least his office responds, though, which I more than I can say for my Congressman.

What are you waiting for?

Filed under The Computer Vet Weblog

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