Mudcat Café message #160751 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #16566   Message #160751
Posted By: Okiemockbird
10-Jan-00 - 01:11 PM
Thread Name: 'Should auld copyrights be forgot ?'
Subject: RE: BS: 'Should auld copyrights be forgot ?'
A "paying public domain" or a government-adminstered or audited escrow fund might be useful in cases where the copyright holder is not known. But as human beings we have a right to free expression, and that means we have a right to a full, unfettered, constantly expanding pure public domain in arts and literature. It is copyright, not the public domain, that needs to be justified, excused, and apologized for. We should not further compromise our overly compromised right to free expression by submitting to any paying public domain in addition to the already obscenly long copyright term. The term of copyright should be shortened to no more than life plus thirty years (if that), and any paying public domain should come out of the life plus thirty, not be added to it.

About a hundered and fifty years ago, Lord Macaulay characterized copyright--rightly--as "a tax on readers for the benefit of writers." Like many taxpayers I am willing to pay reasonable taxes for reasonable public purposes. I am not willing to pay exorbitant taxes just to line bureaucrats' pockets. In our lifetime, the tax known as copyright has increased steadily (in the form of term extensions), but I doubt that the increased revenue has benefitted writers as much as it has benefitted big corporations and other middlemen.