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  • Kraig Grady
    From: Nader 2000 | California To: Public Domain Enhancement Act Introduced Reps. Lofgren and
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 26, 2003
      "Nader 2000 | California" <nader-cal-news-owner@...>

      Public Domain Enhancement Act Introduced

      Reps. Lofgren and Doolittle's copyright reform act
      allows abandoned works to enter the public domain

      Washington, D.C. (June 25) -? U.S. Representatives Zoe Lofgren (D-San
      Jose) and John Doolittle (R-Rocklin) today introduced the Public
      Domain Enhancement Act, addressing the need to reform copyright laws
      identified in the recent Supreme Court decision of Eldred v. Ashcroft.

      The Public Domain Enhancement Act offers American copyright owners
      with continuing interest in works an easy way to maintain their
      copyrights while allowing abandoned works to enter the public domain.
      It requires that American copyright owners pay a simple $1 fee to
      maintain their copyrights 50 years after publication.

      If the owner fails to pay the $1 fee, the copyright expires and the
      work enters the public domain. In addition, copyright owners are
      required to submit a form identifying the copyright holder to
      facilitate proper licensing of copyrighted works.

      "Our Founding Fathers recognized that society has an interest in
      the free flow of ideas, information, and commerce," said Lofgren.
      "That is why copyright protection does not last forever. This bill
      will breathe life into older works whose long-forgotten stories,
      songs, pictures and movies are no longer published, read, heard or
      seen. It is time to give these treasures back to the public."

      "Opening access to historical works for restoration and
      rehabilitation is essential toward ensuring that classics will be
      appreciated and cherished for future generations to come," said
      Doolittle. "I am proud to join my colleague Zoe Lofgren in sponsoring
      this common-sense legislation and greatly appreciate the broad base of
      support it has received."

      When a copyright ends, the works they protect enter the public
      domain, where they can be freely copied or used to create derivative
      works. Commercial and noncommercial creators depend on a healthy
      public domain as a source of raw material for new productions, such as
      a movie based on an old book or a theme song based on old musical

      Schools, museums and libraries also use works in the public domain
      to create pictorial and textual materials for educational and cultural
      purposes. Archivists depend on the public domain to restore and
      preserve historical works and book publishers rely on the public
      domain to print titles and make them available to the public at
      reduced prices.

      In 1998, Congress passed the Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA),
      extending the term of copyright laws by 20 years for works copyrighted
      after the year 1923. In his dissent in the Eldred v. Ashcroft case
      upholding CTEA, Supreme Court Justice Breyer found that only about 2
      percent of copyrights between 55 and 75 years old retain commercial
      value. Yet under the CTEA, these works will not enter the public
      domain for many years. This prevents commercial entities and the
      public from building upon, cultivating and preserving these works.


      -- -Kraig Grady
      North American Embassy of Anaphoria Island
      The Wandering Medicine Show
      KXLU 88.9 FM WED 8-9PM PST
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