Lawrence Lessig has been fighting the Good Fight , trying to get the Eldred Act bill introduced to congress. He has posted a link to make it easier to contact your elected servant . The Eldred Act FAQ is here .
I can hear you thinking: Why should I care about books and music staying copyrighted forever? The answer is, human greed. When a book is no longer bringing in money for a publisher, they stop printing it. It goes “out of print”. They still own the book. No-one else can print copies of the book. The copies that have been printed are the only copies which will ever be printed.
Sometimes, occasionally, rarely, the publisher will sell the rights to another publisher, so that the new publisher can print the book. After a while, the book isn’t bringing in any money, and goes out of print. Given that publishers seldom trade rights back and forth, this makes little difference in the overall scheme of the copyright-induced loss of history and culture.
I will tell you this: My very favorite book as a child was Go Dog Go. It was published in 1961. Someday I plan to have a kid or two. If that book is out of print when I need it, I will find a used copy, scan it, make .jpgs of it, and release it to every file-sharing service in existence. Publisher copyright be damned. The owners of the rights to Go Dog Go do not have my permission to allow the book to go out of print. If it does, and they do not WITHIN NANOSECONDS either sell the rights or release the book to the public domain, then that is a crime against every person ever read, and every person who will never read, Mr. Eastman’s wonderful book.
Laws do not matter, property rights do not matter. Only the easy and continued availability of the book matters. This applies not only to Go Dog Go, but to every book, poem, essay, op/ed piece, song, play and story ever published in this country. Let none of them ever again be unavailable to the public for any reason.
In other news, here is a picture of a mushroom.