You’ve been robbed

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.

6 Responses to “You’ve been robbed”

  1. ariannaon 07 Jan 2011 at 8:40 am

    Ah that’s funny…I was just going to post a cool link regarding that after reading your post…and then I remembered that I ought to click your link & see what it was, and – lo and behold! – it was the same one. Haha! That would’ve been awkward…! ;)

    Great article, eh? Disappointing as all get out, but still great to read.

  2. Marshaon 07 Jan 2011 at 10:18 am

    @arianna: Go ahead and post the link on your blog! I am interested to hear your opinions as a librarian on this topic. :)

  3. Chrison 07 Jan 2011 at 9:10 pm

    Great minds – I had a link to a different article interpreting that article in linkity today. :)

  4. Marshaon 08 Jan 2011 at 6:23 pm

    @Chris: Great minds indeed! :) And 864 books in 2010? YOU ARE AMAZING!

  5. ariannaon 12 Jan 2011 at 1:10 pm

    Oh no, Marsha, I meant I was going to post the link as a comment on your post, because I hadn’t yet clicked your link…I am not going to post it on my own blog…no time & way too much to discuss. :)

  6. Marshaon 14 Jan 2011 at 11:56 am

    “Way too much to discuss”? Aw, now you HAVE to post about this! (When you have time, of course!)