Someone explain the Eldred v. Ashcroft case to me. Why is it that it seems everyone but me is on the Eldred (Lessig) side?
Why is it that copyrights should expire ever? I don’t see the logic? Why should anybody in the world be able to make Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck ripoffs? How does the public gain in this case? I don’t see it. Why is it that after Disney has spent untold millions a year on keeping Mickey Mouse fresh and popular that they should have to give it all up just because it’s some number of years after they first introduced him?
Lessig has come up with this term, “the Public Commons”. He then goes on to define the “the Public Commons” as only stuff which is uncopyritten, public domain, freely usable in any way possible. But is that really the correct definition? Could it be that the real definition of “the Public Commons” should be all ideas we are able to be exposed to? Under this definition we have the largest “Public Commons” ever in the history of humankind.
I can go into any Tower Records and be exposed to several tens of thousands musicians. I can walk into a Borders or Barnes and Noble and have access to tens of thousands of books. I’ve got access to video stores with thousands of movies. Hundreds if not thousands of comics. I’d argue that therefore our “public commons” is ENORMOUS!
When I want to design a new game or write a story of course I draw on all those ideas. They didn’t need to be public domain for me to do that. Star Wars is inspired by E.E.Doc Smith’s the Lensman series but that doesn’t mean it’s a rip off or needed to be one. The Lensman series didn’t need to be public domain in order for that inspriation to happen.
If more stories/music/movies etc were public domain I’d probably never know about them. Why? Because there would be no reason to push them. There would be no reason to have giant bookstores all over the place if there was no way to make money from books. Very very few people would take the time to write them if there wasn’t this hope that they were going to have a bestseller.
I’m sorry but I don’t see how limiting copyright at all increases our true “public commons” in any way. In fact it’s the exact opposite. Limiting copyright will destroy the public commons. As mentioned above, first, many things that now have a reason to get pushed would no longer get pushed. On top of that instead of getting new ideas inspired by the old we’d just get complete ripoffs. Why do I need to use it for inspiration when I can just publish an exact copy? Why do I have to come up with a new superhero when I can just insert Superman here?
It would seem to me that creators, in particular story authors, would find copyright limits appalling. You make a story about a big blue lovable furry monster named Sulley that takes care of a little 4 year old girl named Boo. When the copyright expires Joe Unscrupulous is now making The Fudup Adventures of Boo and Sulley where Boo seduces Sulley into a cocain habit. Most authors I know would be seriously upset to have their characters, their creations, used without permission in ways they didn’t want them to be used regardless of whether it’s 1 month after publication or one millenia after publication.
Lessig wants to put forward that something is being taken away by not allowing these things to become public domain. But he never really nails it down what we are losing. He just states as a fact that we are losing something and without really thinking it through most people seemed to buy it. We certainly are not losing our ability to be inspired and therefore make new creations by having long copyrights. The Public Commons is not getting smaller. In fact because of copyright, BILLIONS of dollars are spent on content creation every year. The system works as it was intended to by our forefathers. That content IS part of the Public Commons by virtue of it being available to the public. We have the best Public Commons ever specifically because of copyright.