Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Coming Copyright Battle

Timothy B. Lee, writing in the Washington Post, has an excellent summary of the evolution of copyright in the United States.  In a little over 5 years from now, assuming the copyright law isn't changed, works will once again begin to fall into the public domain.  However, it is likely that major corporations such as Disney will be heavily lobbying to extend the length of copyright once again.  Lee suggests that the existence of the internet, which rallied to kill the Stop Online Piracy Act, may be a countervailing force.
"The big question now is whether incumbent copyright holders will try to get yet another extension of copyright terms before works begin falling into the public domain again on January 1, 2019.

"For now, Hollywood is staying mum; a spokesman for the Motion Picture Association of America declined to comment on its plans. We weren't able to find any sign the topic has come up on Capitol Hill. But most of the experts we spoke to said the stakes are so high that a renewed lobbying push is almost inevitable.

"'If Hollywood and their allies want to do this, they're going to have to start doing it now,' says Chris Sprigman, a legal scholar at New York University. "I would imagine there are discussions going on." Sprigman predicts a debate over term extension over the next five years will look very different than it did in the 1990s. "People are paying attention," he says. "There's a coalition now" that's likely to oppose longer terms."
(Link via Mark Evanier)

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