Fun with Copyrights...

I like copyrights, they are a generally good thing. We, the People, have decided that we value the efforts of authors, artists, and other creators of information. So, we have created a mechanism where our tax money is spent to protect these creations. We will guard these alleged possessions, and in return they will be disseminated and will go into the public domain. (The constitution is specific in that point, copyright is for a limited time.)

Unfortunately, I think the bargain has been broken.

The limited time keeps getting longer and longer and longer, it is now up to lifetime of the artist + 70 years at least. The copyright holders (who are now distinct from the creators) are keeping a tighter and tighter hold on the creations. It used to be you bought a record, book, or program. Now you license them.

I, as one of the People, would like to know where the public domain is. I don't see it, the bargain has been broken. So I must now ask for my tax money back. If none of the copyrighted creations are going to be ending up in the public domain for all to enjoy, then why is my tax money being spent defending it? In business terms (which seem to be the only relevant ones these days), I see no return on my investment.

If Disney wants "Steam Boat Willy" (not Micky Mouse, he's trademarked, and that is a different issue), then Disney can pay for their own protection of that specific creation, as a trade secret. That miserable piece of animation is now only interesting to historians (it was the first cartoon to have sync sound) and belongs in the public for all to see.

Disney has made their money. Now its time for everyone else to get what they paid for.

As an example of how things could work, there is a web version of a book written in about 1902 about the NewYork subway system. It goes into wonderful detail about exactly how all the tunnels were dug, how the electricity was routed, how the tracks were laid out. It was copyrighted before 1920, so it has actualy gotten into the public domain. So, it was actualy possible to get it copied forward onto the web, and for me to read it. I think its safe to assume that is the singular way I could have read an obscure old book.