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Rethinking the CLASSICS Act

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Rethinking the CLASSICS Act

Postby MrFredPFL » Mon Jun 04, 2018 9:49 pm

Story :

Everyone knows that copyright is critically important to artists. It rewards them for their creativity, and because of that reward, our culture grows. Our current copyright system does a terrible job for artists in the digital age. We need lots of reform to make it work for them, and for the public.

But here’s a bit of pretty obvious logic: the incentive of copyright only works prospectively. It gives a reason to produce something new — in the future. It can do no good for work that already exists. Not even the United States Congress can get George Gershwin to produce anything more. Yet Congress just can’t stop itself — and you know why. It can’t break its habit of giving gifts to famous creators (because surprise surprise, it turns out those creators give gifts back to the politicians!) Right now, Congress is considering just such a gift.

The CLASSICS Act would give a new right for already created work, protecting them until 2067; which means, in some cases, for a term of more than 140 years! In exchange, the public gets nothing.

If Congress wanted to “compensate legacy artists,” it could do so in a way that the public could benefit too — by requiring that any domestic copyright owner who wanted this new right register for it. Work that no one wants would then pass into the public domain, where archivists could preserve it, and artists could build upon it and share it. They could gain and the public domain could gain as well. Because everytime they give away these exclusive rights for stuff that already exists, we lose something critical. We lose access to our culture. Not because there is stuff we have to pay for, but because there is TONS OF STUFF that no one can even find the copyright owner for. There is no registry of all copyrights. There is no one-click way to ask permission.

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