Jan 7th, 2011
By changes to the copyright law, that is.
The Center for the Study of the Public Domain at Duke University Law School published an article on how changes in 1978 to the U.S. copyright law have affected us all. For the worse.
Works published or produced in 1954 that would have gone into the public domain on January 1, 2011, will now remain under copyright until 2050. This includes books, movies, musical compositions, and some scientific articles. The article also argues that up to 85% of the works produced in 1982 would also have entered the public domain a few days ago (assuming their copyrights weren’t renewed).
Most of this stuff falls in the category “orphan works”—that is, their copyright owners can’t be found. So these things get used less frequently because no one know who they belong to (and no one wants to get sued for illegal use). Sounds like a bureaucratic mess.
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