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Media United States Your Rights Online

What Would Have Entered the Public Domain Tomorrow? 331

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Duke's Center for the Study of the Public Domain about items that would enter the public domain starting on January 1, 2010, if not for copyright extenions: "'Casino Royale, Marilyn Monroe's Playboy cover, The Adventures of Augie March, the Golden Age of Science Fiction, Crick & Watson's Nature article decoding the double helix, Disney's Peter Pan, The Crucible'... 'How ironic that Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, with its book burning firemen, was published in 1953 and would once have been entering the public domain on January 1, 2010. To quote James Boyle, "Bradbury's firemen at least set fire to their own culture out of deep ideological commitment, vile though it may have been. We have set fire to our cultural record for no reason; even if we had wanted retrospectively to enrich the tiny number of beneficiaries whose work keeps commercial value beyond 56 years, we could have done so without these effects. The ironies are almost too painful to contemplate.""
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What Would Have Entered the Public Domain Tomorrow?

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  • Re:Cool (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ickleberry ( 864871 ) <> on Thursday December 31, 2009 @07:04PM (#30610780) Homepage
    Since everything is so readily available now through torrents I can't really say there is anything that I can't get my hands on now that I would be able to get my hands on if they were made public domain. Unless of course you start including classified government documents and the like, or very obscure gems that for some reason never made it into widespread circulation
  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Thursday December 31, 2009 @07:08PM (#30610808) Journal

    These copyright "extensions" are nothing more than another government bailout.

    Any legislator that voted for these extensions should be voted out of office, no matter their party affiliation. There wasn't even the possibility that they'd put the good of the citizens above the good of corporations.

  • by Andorin ( 1624303 ) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @07:13PM (#30610826)
    The Copyright Act of 1976 did away with the "x years, with an additional x years on renewal" clause of copyright law; nowadays you just have one option, which is the length of the copyright term. Allowing authors and artists to renew their copyrights if they so choose keeps commercially viable works protected (which is arguably good), as it will be worth it to pay the fee to renew the copyright, but it also lets works that aren't commercially viable (and in many cases, not even commercially available) fall into the public domain much sooner. Since copyright encompasses all works, not simply those that the entertainment industry promotes and sells and makes huge profits from, it needs a sort of balance and the return of copyright renewal could be a step along that path.

    I mean, there are lots of creative works out there that are still under copyright, but because there's no central registry of copyright holders (which is another advantage that copyright renewal could bring, as it would require registration), it's difficult, expensive, or just plain impossible to find out who the rights holders are. These are works that are decades old and haven't brought in any profit in years and years- and yet it's still illegal to use them because of copyright law.

    Thanks a lot, Mickey.
  • by MrEricSir ( 398214 ) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @07:15PM (#30610836) Homepage

    We need to start an anti-corporate welfare lobby.

  • by CopaceticOpus ( 965603 ) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @07:15PM (#30610838)

    I've been wanting to read J.D. Salinger's Nine Stories. It would have been lovely to find it on Project Gutenberg.

  • One hour to go (UTC) (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sakdoctor ( 1087155 ) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @07:18PM (#30610856) Homepage

    The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it. the beginning of the decade I believed this, but turns out it doesn't if the damage is sufficient.

    To sum up this decade: We marvelled upon the freedoms that networked computers promised; not merely electronic versions of existing media, but a whole new frontier, only to watch it be crushed for the most trivial of reasons.

    1. Protectionism in the popular music and film industry. All that is trivial, frivolous yet mildly entertaining in our culture.
    2. The completely non-existent, child predator moral-panic, boogeyman.
    3. Security theatre and the statistically vanishing threat of global terrorism.

    Out of a comprehensive list of possible reasons, those have to right at the bottom of the list, scraping the barrel of pathetic excuses.

  • by voss ( 52565 ) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @07:23PM (#30610886)

    Copyright extension- ok BUT

    1) Copyright extension renewal required. If you or your heirs dont care enough about your copyright to file paperwork and send in a check to cover the costs
    of copyright preservation then you dont get one.

    2) All copyrights from this point on come with a set date of copyright expiration at filing that cannot be lengthened beyond that date.

  • Do they care? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Grey Loki ( 1427603 ) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @07:24PM (#30610900)
    I wonder if the people who actually created the work care that after five decades they may not be able to make a miniscule amount of income from it - personally, I would be fairly embarrassed if I made one 'great work' and then ended up desperately lobbying governments to protect my one meagre source of income, instead of continuing my artistic development and releasing new material that consumers value enough to buy (while getting a kick out of the fact that someone's rewritten a story that I wrote decades ago, and is now making their own name).
  • Greedy note aside (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cdrguru ( 88047 ) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @07:24PM (#30610902) Homepage

    One thing that people do not seem to understand is that if works were entering public domain this does not mean that there would be huge numbers of things suddenly available for free. What it likely means is that some mega-distributor (think WalMart or Sony) would snap up materials that no longer had an "owner" and they would publish and distribute them.

    Now some people might laugh at a book on the shelf at WalMart that was simply a reprint of something that had entered public domain. Alternatively, there are many that would buy it. Printing books is cheap, promoting them is not. If WalMart had zero cost other than simply putting the book on the shelf, would they print lots of books?

    Would Sony make them available "exclusively" for the Sony Reader? Wouldn't it be fun to see Amazon and Sony both declaring that they exclusively were making Gone With the Wind available to for their devices? And then Barnes and Nobel coming along with "their" version for their device.

    Free stuff isn't interesting to people with large distribution channels. Stuff you can charge for, even just 1% over the cost of production, is much more interesting. Stuff you can charge 200% over the cost of production is even more interesting. As long as most of the world doesn't have access to high-speed Internet connections or have the knowledge to make use of them distribution is going to be where the big bucks are.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 31, 2009 @07:25PM (#30610910)

    Any legislator that voted for these retroactive extensions should be arrested.

    Fixed that.

    US Constitution, Article 1, Section 9, paragraph 3:

    "No bill of attainder or ex post facto law shall be passed."

    Congress broke the biggest law.

  • by Stolovaya ( 1019922 ) <{skingiii} {at} {}> on Thursday December 31, 2009 @07:26PM (#30610918)
    Any idea when the latest copyright law/extensions were voted in and who voted for what? I would like to see if anyone I can make a vote for/against was part of them.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 31, 2009 @07:31PM (#30610942)

    Well it's not like he voted himself in the office, I believe he had help, millions of voters, now you say that they were deceived misinformed, no they were just ignorant, and now all will pay for it, democracy at it's finest. Thousands of years of known history and this is how we live ...

  • Re:Greedy note aside (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @07:38PM (#30610992) Journal

    But the fact is that, once a work is in the public domain, you are free to distribute it any way you please. So yes, so big chain could print off a ton of copies and profit from them (and in a way that happens, Shakespeare's been in the public domain for over four hundred years, and yet publishers still put out copies of everything from single plays to whole the damned Folio). But even if one can publish and sell for profit these books, at that same time I can go to Project Gutenberg and download my own copy, and it's perfectly legitimate.

    However, I'm thinking of writing a speculative fiction story where big publishing houses and media firms convince Congress to allow them to buy up public domain works, and then go after anyone who has an illegitimate copy of Henry V. What scares me is maybe it'll come true.

  • by Rockoon ( 1252108 ) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @07:43PM (#30611012)
    Thinking about this, suppose a good compromise is to allow unlimited extensions but to charge higher and higher prices as the length increases.

    Perhaps 7 years automatic for free, with the next 7 years costing $1,000, and the next costing $10,000, and the next costing $100,000, then $1,000,000, and so forth. A 10x increase for each extension.

    ..with the proceeds of extensions going towards public education.
  • Berne Convention (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tepples ( 727027 ) <{tepples} {at} {}> on Thursday December 31, 2009 @07:48PM (#30611028) Homepage Journal

    the return of copyright renewal could be a step along that path.

    One condition of joining the World Trade Organization is joining the Berne Convention, which appears to ban countries from requiring a renewal or any other formality from a copyright owner. Reintroducing copyright renewal might require the United States to withdraw from the WTO.

  • Re:Greedy note aside (Score:4, Interesting)

    by aynoknman ( 1071612 ) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @07:49PM (#30611034)

    Free stuff isn't interesting to people with large distribution channels. Stuff you can charge for, even just 1% over the cost of production, is much more interesting. Stuff you can charge 200% over the cost of production is even more interesting. As long as most of the world doesn't have access to high-speed Internet connections or have the knowledge to make use of them distribution is going to be where the big bucks are.

    The most important lesson here is that small distribution channels are becoming more important. As is voluntary production. Without the unjust copyright monopoly that steals from the public, these items would be available.

    High-speed internet is not universally available, but is still following a law similar to Moore's law. A personal anecdote:
    I lived in a rural African village in 1991 when my father died in Canada. I had to travel four hours to reach a telephone. Today that village has cell phone coverage and not-very-high-speed internet. Cell phones are revolutionizing the third world and will soon be their libraries.

  • by chrisgeleven ( 514645 ) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @07:51PM (#30611052) Homepage

    My great-great grandmother wrote a book in the late 1960s just before she died. It is long ago out of print, but we luckily have a copy thanks to someone who had a used copy for sale on and our luck of happening to look for it right when it was for sale.

    I would love to make a PDF copy and put it up on my genealogy site as a free download, however from my reading of copyright laws it appears it is still under copyright. No one knows who is the owner of the copyright is at this point, we have no idea if the publisher is still around, and I doubt it sold more than a few hundred copies back when it was released in the first place. No way it would make any money at this point even if it came back into print. In short, the best place for this book is the public domain.

    A perfect example of what a smartly written copyright law could do. This book should have long ago been in the public domain and even if it was copyrighted thanks to a renewal, there should be clear information on who the owner is.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 31, 2009 @07:52PM (#30611064)

    Civil disobedience, in a sense. Everyone treat things as if they were in the PD, even companies.

    When enough people go along with the idea, it'll happen for real.

  • GPL (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 31, 2009 @08:04PM (#30611134)

    The GNU General Public License (GPL) is the appropriate response to draconian copyright law. If they want to make copyright with indefinite length and draconian punishments for violators, then GPL becomes the new public domain.

    In some senses, this new GPL Domain is better than the public domain, precisely because it is "viral". Anything based on the public domain need not acknowledge its heritage, but anything based on the GPL Domain requires it.

    At first, the content pool is small, but as it grows and becomes the richest and easiest material to re-use, it reaches critical mass. And pity the poor corporations who touch a GPL work and try to call it their own, as they are now hoisted on their own petard.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 31, 2009 @08:20PM (#30611252)

    Speak for yourself. Works still exist. Three years ago at the university, I tried to get my hands on a couple of papers in my field. They exist. Barely. At less than a dozen libraries in the United States. Sorry--I didn't want to check on what I had to do to get a European intralibrary loan. The publisher long ago went out of business. Nobody knows where they are or can be found--and just because it shows in a catalog doesn't mean the first two places I contacted could locate it. Or would have sent it to me even if they could. I'm not talking about some rare original copy of some book by Chaucer here--but papers published in actual academic journals. My professor had some 40 year old yellowed mimeograph (I think) he refused to let students see for fear it would crumble to dust. They weren't in books, they weren't aggregated in later volumes--the author was long dead, the publisher out of business or purchased--google could find me some citations but no sources. Yes--I could have read it--if I'd traveled to Boston. Maybe. Even then, I'd half wonder if it was actually in the stacks of the library or not.

    It's not an outright lie--copyright destroys our culture by making it impossible to lawfully propagate and reproduce materials that are unnaturally scarce to the point of unavailability. What happens as those 50 year old out of print journal articles fade to the point of being illegible? When you take something, make it unnaturally scarce, and make it illegal to replenish it--eventually it decays to the point of nothing.

    Just because fireman don't burn them doesn't mean copyright doesn't have the same effect when spread out over something first printed in the early 30's. 80 years later--I really can't get a copy without traveling. And soon those will turn to dust, or only be available with white gloves in some obscure room. If the university libraries don't pitch them.

    Sorry--copyright is a fire--and it needs to be put out. Any work that has more than 90% of its original publications lost/destroyed should be immediately opened to the public domain.

  • Re:GPL (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Andorin ( 1624303 ) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @08:30PM (#30611318)
    I agree with this, though I would go so far as to say that copyleft in general, not simply the GPL, is the perfect answer to ever-increasing copyright. Copyleft is just awesome- it lets people use creative works in ways that conventional copyright does not, and has the double whammy of protecting these works from the big corps using the power of conventional copyright.
    Oh, and did I mention that freely available, permissively licensed content is direct competition to the entertainment industry's products? Suck it, RIAA. I don't need you for my music.
  • by cybergremlin ( 136962 ) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @08:32PM (#30611330)

    Mickey Mouse will never enter the public domain. Disney will always get a retroactive extension to copyright that includes it through congress before that happens. You can argue that this is bad/unfair/unconstitutional/great/etc but that is the practical reality. Any practical proposal for a reform of the copyright system has to take this into account.

    Under the current system this means that anything from that era forward also stays out of the public domain forever, including “orphan works”. The loss of these “orphan works” that are long out of print and with no clear owner is the one thing that (almost) everyone can agree is a Bad Thing. So, any reform that has any chance of passing must improve the situation with those items while preserving the interests of politically powerful copyright holders (Disney, Sony, etc). I can see some options that could do it, though in any real world implementations would reveal some flaws.

    Opt-in renewal is the one we hear tossed around the most. This sets forgotten material into the public domain but preserves the copyright on anything the owner finds worthy of a nominal renewal fee. It has the added bonus of registering who you can license the publishing rights from.

    Letting works fall into the public domain after being out of print for X years could also accomplish the above goals. It would also have the added bonus of encouraging publishers to keep a work available/in-print to preserve their rights.

    Lastly we could instead create a special extension for trademarks, franchises, and corporate identifiers. Things strongly associated with an ongoing business could be protected for a longer period. DC would keep Superman and Disney would keep Mickey, but an out of print science article would not get the new extension and would eventually enter the public domain.

    None of these proposals would satisfy copyleft purists or “hands off my copyright!” paranoids but they could be a reasonable starting point for compromise.

  • by Velodra ( 1443121 ) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @08:34PM (#30611336)

    His statement is not a fallacy. It is an outright lie.

    It is something known as a metaphor. Copyright makes many works unavailable to lots of people, just like burning works would.

  • by Rob the Bold ( 788862 ) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @09:31PM (#30611658)

    You should already be aware that most of the US Constitution and Bill of Rights has already been undermined, so I don't know how you'd be surprised that a few other words have been ignored. They have become a historic relic, not a guide to the modern legal system.

    "Quaint" is the operative word, I believe.

  • by JWSmythe ( 446288 ) <> on Thursday December 31, 2009 @10:41PM (#30611942) Homepage Journal

    You very carefully (or tactfully) left out the "R" word. When the people have suffered enough under the current law, they can and as history has shown will, stand up against what they despise most.

        I had said a few years ago, the people here had tolerated almost everything they could. We've come down a few notches from the beginning of a civil war. We aren't very far from it though. I have some faith in our new leadership, but so much has gone wrong with American since those documents were written, that I'm not sure we can get back to a point where the people are truly happy. Commercial interests have taken such control over the way we live, that they will drive us over the edge sooner than later.

        It would take a serious level of insanity for one person to stand up against it. If one person did, that person wouldn't be free for very long. When the people, with a unified front, stand up against what we all have become, then and only then, will things change. History has shown that it can, and will happen. Lately, I haven't met many people who aren't on the brink. They are homeless, living with friends or family. They are barely working, if at all. People are surviving through the little bit that they have left, or not at all [].

        This is no longer America, land of hope and freedom.


  • Re:Offensive (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jameskojiro ( 705701 ) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @10:50PM (#30611976) Journal

    To be honest there wasn't that much feminist lit that many years ago compared to all the other stuff from that same time period. Plus maybe all of the feminist lit DID enter public dmain.

  • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @11:12PM (#30612088)

    Fixed that.
    "No bill of attainder or ex post facto law shall be passed."

    This is the classic exposition of what "ex post facto" means in in America law and it has held for 212 years.

    I will state what laws I consider ex post facto laws, within the words and the intent of the prohibition. 1st. Every law that makes an action , done before the passing of the law, and which was innocent when done, criminal; and punishes such action. 2nd. Every law that aggravates a crime, or makes it greater than it was, when committed. 3rd. Every law that changes the punishment, and inflicts a greater punishment, than the law annexed to the crime, when committed. 4th. Every law that alters the legal rules of evidence, and receives less, or different, testimony, than the law required at the time of the commission of the offence, in order to convict the offender. All these, and similar laws, are manifestly unjust and oppressive. In my opinion, the true distinction is between ex post facto laws, and retrospective laws. Every ex post facto law must necessarily be retrospective; but every retrospective law is not an ex post facto law: The former, only, are prohibited. Every law that takes away, or impairs, rights vested, agreeably to existing laws, is retrospective, and is generally unjust; and may be oppressive; and it is a good general rule, that a law should have no retrospect: but there are cases in which laws may justly, and for the benefit of the community, and also of individuals, relate to a time antecedent to their commencement; as statutes of oblivion, or of pardon.

    The expressions 'ex post facto laws,' are technical, they had been in use long before the Revolution, and had acquired an appropriate meaning, by Legislators, Lawyers, and Authors. The celebrated and judicious Sir William Blackstone, in his commentaries, considers an ex post facto law precisely in the same light I have done. His opinion is confirmed by his successor, Mr. Wooddeson; and by the author of the Federalist, who I esteem superior to both, for his extensive and accurate knowledge of the true principles of Government. Calder v. Bull, 3 Dall. 386 (1798) []

  • by chrisgeleven ( 514645 ) on Friday January 01, 2010 @01:21AM (#30612522) Homepage

    Yep you described exactly the issue.

    I do not have the book on me at this second, so I cannot check who has the copyright, but I am guessing it was her. She long ago died (about 3 years after the book was published). If I recall right, it was published around 1968, so it unfortunately never had a chance of a renewal not happening automatically if I am reading the copyright laws correctly. In fact, it appears it would be 95 years from the publication date before it can go into the public domain.

    That is 2063...which means I will be 81 before it goes into the public domain! How asine is that? What sense does it make for a book that probably never had anything close to a second printing, probably sold only a few hundred copies, and was out of print by the time I was born to not be in the public domain until I am 81?

    My only reasonable hope is if I could track down my great-great-grandmother's will and hope that it was my great-grandmother (who died in 1996) that was the hier. Because my great-grandmother would have given everything to her 2 children, my grandfather and great-aunt, both of who are still alive.

    But given my luck, I doubt it would be that "simple."

  • by Requiem18th ( 742389 ) on Friday January 01, 2010 @06:09AM (#30613162)

    Several people have come here insisting that public domain is not about getting free stuff but accumulating a cultural context to build upon it and create new stuff, it is true but. what if I want to rip or redistribute the original work? is it inherently wrong?

    Not long ago, the only way to transfer the experience of traveling to another country was narrating it, repetitively. If you were really good describing scenery with words you could write it down. If you were good at drawing you could try to make some sketches.

    Not anymore, now we take pictures and video, we are the multimedia generation. Even better, we can transmit this data to anywhere in the planet almost for free almost instantaneously.

    We could understand this as an example of human evolution, as if our sensory organs, mental retention and expressive abilities were directly evolved.

    Not long ago, if you saw a play on the theater and wanted to transmit the experience you'd have to reinterpret every character and dialog as best as you could.

    Nowadays, if you do the equivalent of going to the theater, going to the movie theater, and wanted transmit this experience to someone all you have to do is give them a torrent of the movie you saw.

    Except you aren't allowed to do that.

    The same technological evolution that upgraded you from human to super human a second ago is outlawed when it comes to copyright. In fact you can't even remember it for yourself with technology, you have to rely in your biological memory.

    Access to the information, each access to the information is now owned by someone.

    The typical rebuttal/mockery of this line of thought is that you could access to this information for a modicum price, to call you a cheapo who wouldn't pay for a movie ticket and such.

    But if you saw digital recording/replay/transmission as an extension of your own being, as I do, you'd understand that you are basically asking me to accept an intermediary between me and my brain. An intermediary with the capacity to both, impose control or charge for use, any use, every use.

    This is particularly obvious to me with things like classical music. The music itself is public domain but the interpretation is not. If I want to remember a piece -legally- my only options are to either only rely on my biological memory or accept a gatekeeper.

    That I'm not allowed to digitally store everything I see and hear seems like a horrible intrusion from the government and a obstacle for our evolution.

    I know some will find this a delusional rant, but I really fear that unless there is a shift in political power, the first full brain machine interface we'll see will also be the first DRM'ed brain.

  • Why Not Ask Them? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DynaSoar ( 714234 ) on Friday January 01, 2010 @09:56AM (#30613816) Journal

    Some questions for thought with regards to the issues of rights and ownership. The readership here is big on rights. Where's consideration for these peoples' rights? Pretending the issue is between the public (ie. domain) and governmental control is overly simplistic. The rights of the owners get devalued in such discussions and the owners are relegated to the ping pong ball treatment. Try to read through and think on them before responding. This is not intended as flamebait, but as an opening of awareness to include a class of rights holders not as often considered here as others. So please do read through all the way to the bottom, there are important points there too.

    So, reconsider this as "Whose Property Would You Have Taken Away Tomorrow"?

    Why not contact some of the authors/owners for things that would have gone PD and ask them to sign their rights over to PD? Seems to me to be more fair to have the owners sign them over at a time of their choosing than forcing them to relinquish according to a calendar.

    Why not require authors to include a 'convert to PD' statement in their new application for copyright, which gives them up to a mandated maximum, but for which they can specify a lesser amount?

    For that matter, why not have every application for copyright have a question on it, asking the applicant for their opinion on future changes to the law, asking what time span would be fair to use as the maximum before requiring conversion to PD? Non-binding certainly, but at least it takes the opinions of those most affected into account.

    While in force copyright acts much like other rights of ownership. How many other laws covering protection of owners' rights require the owner to give their property away after a certain period? No matter how rightly this is required, as has always been the intention of copyright laws, it still is a case of mandated relinquishing of ownership.

    Turn it around and look at it. Let's say you buy a brand new house. In the deed is a statement that in let's say 50 years, it becomes property of the state and will be given over to the homeless, under control of the same agency that protects your ownership in the mean time. You can still live there, but so can anyone else. Oh, and selling the house doesn't change that date. Consider what that's going to do to your property value over time. If that was the law and you wanted a house, of course you'd have to go along. But as time went on the implications would start to matter more. Now imaging that the government comes along and says they're going to change all existing contracts saying 50 years to 75 years. Will you, as owner, have a problem with that? Theoretically the law also protected the homeless by providing them a place to live. They have rights too, and it's beneficial for society to have its members caring for each other rather than have one class left to go without since that causes all sorts of other problems like crime. Will you tell the government that you'd just as soon keep your 50 year limit and allow your ownership to expire? And you people in the market for a house that can't afford a new one but are willing to fix up and old one to maker it worth more, will you buy a used house? How old?

    That's simply property. Copyright covers things that usually produce income for the owner, sometimes for an extended period. So let's change the above from owning a home to owning a business (owning, selling and speculation of copyrights are part of the business of authorship and publishing, after all). Will you start a business if you know that after 50 years it will be turned over to public trust and all income derived diverted to public funds? What will you do as the time approaches? Will you stick to your original contract or will you accept the government's extension?

    Society needs responsible and stable owners of both homes and businesses to maintain what they own for the duration of their ownership. The alternative is their neglect as the value to them draws down. The result would be that t

  • by zuki ( 845560 ) on Friday January 01, 2010 @11:24AM (#30614182) Journal
    Looks like Robert Heinlein wrote this, and it does feel fairly applicable to this situation:

    "There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary public interest. This strange doctrine is not supported by statute nor common law. Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped or turned back, for their private benefit."

    Hope no one else posted this.... apologies if this is a duplicate post.

    Obviously, what he failed to foresee is that corporations could in fact have the government change common law, by employing the services of enough lobbyists.
  • by RealGrouchy ( 943109 ) on Friday January 01, 2010 @04:03PM (#30615790)

    You're looking at it backwards. Instead of asking who you should ask permission for, instead ask who would object. If you can't identify which of your family members (or otherwise) is the copyright holder on a little-known low-print-run book, chances are the copyright holder also doesn't know, and probably would never find out.

    As the saying goes, it's easier to seek forgiveness than permission.

    - RG>

"The C Programming Language -- A language which combines the flexibility of assembly language with the power of assembly language."