Yesterday while many people were protesting SOPA and PIPA another blow to knowledge was passed in silence. The Supreme Court says that the Congress has the power to take works which have passed into the public domain and put them back under copyright.
One more strike against progress in the name of profit and control over information. How long can we allow this monopolization of knowledge to keep going?
I agree that copyright laws should be uniform internationally, but this doesn't sound like the way to go about it. The US movement to continually expand copyright at the expense of the free flow of information is Luddite, as far as I'm concerned. As our technical capacity to share and reap the benefits of idea exchange expands, we should find ways to embrace the new power. Uneven enforcement, with some countries totally ignoring copyrights of others, is harmful too. There has to be a better global system than what we're doing.
How far we've gone from the original U.S. copyright: a term of 14 years, with an option to renew once for another 14 years if the author is still alive.
The Founders certainly didn't envision large publishing houses profiting from someone's creative work half a century after the author's death!
"....power to take works which have passed into the public domain and put them back under copyright."
Ok, you have my attention, but how do the retro-pay/retro-fine this? I don't get it.
They can't as far as I know. It just means that works which were public domain can be re-copyrighted under a new owner who can then have people charged for violation of copyright.
The whole western world- especially the USA and Britain, seem to be going rapidly down hill... it's sad.
Let's tell the truth about what is going on here. The movie studios are trying to keep products from falling into the public domain. The writers, directors, actors, and everyone else involved in the making of those films are long dead. Few retained any royalty rights back then. It's only the studio profiting from works created by someone else long before the executives of those corporations were even born. For quite some time they have been successful in extending the copyrights creating an odd situation where works are in the public domain everywhere except in the US.
I would only support extending the copyright in the rare instance where the creator of the work would receive the copyright back, assuming that person is still alive. (It's possible since works from the 1920s are falling into public domain now.)