Saturday, January 01, 2011

Public Domain Day - 2011

Happy Public Domain Day ("PD") in Canada. I'm sure that the redoubtable Wallace McLean will soon tell us what we have to be thankful for, notwithstanding attempts such the thankfully failed  Lucy Maude Montgomery Act in 2003 to the contrary.

Update: Here's Wallace McLean's annual treasure trove of PD erudition.

Lest we forget, in the USA and EU, it's a very different and sad story. The US has gradually been extending its copyright term at the behest of corporate lobbyists. Indeed, in 1998, Disney led the successful campaign done in the name of the late Sonny Bono to go to life + 70 years - with a mass extension resulting effectively  in a moratorium on additions to the public domain until at least 2019.

Actually, his widow wanted even more. She said:
Actually, Sonny wanted the term of copyright protection to last forever. I am informed by staff that such a change would violate the Constitution. . . . As you know, there is also [Motion Picture Association of America president] Jack Valenti's proposal for the term to last forever less one day. Perhaps the Committee may look at that next Congress
All to protect Mickey Mouse.

It seems that Disney, having itself perfected the art of purloining the public domain for profit, wanted to ensure that its business model could not be duplicated by new competitors.

This is ironically analogous to the entire US Government approach, since certainly up until 1909 and in some ways up until 1976 and even beyond, the USA has been a relatively very low protection nation, with all sorts of shortcomings in terms of protecting actual creators of any nationality and all foreign copyright owners. Some of these shortcomings still exist, such as the work for hire doctrine and the absence of moral rights protection other than for visual works.

Ironically, the USA has far more generous fair use provisions than does Canada - at least compared to the current state of jurisprudence regarding "fair dealing" according to one panel of the Federal Court of Appeal in upholding the narrow view of the Copyright Board in the CMEC K-12 decision. CMEC is seeking leave to appeal this decision to the Supreme Court of Canada. .

Anyway - here's a couple of must read items from the USA today on Public Domain Day:

Here; and  Here


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