on copywright/from nader list
"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
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
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