NINCH >> NINCH Programs
Subject Area: THE PUBLIC DOMAIN
Mellon's "Knowledge Conservancy" and the
"Creative Commons" projects move ahead (or not) to
promote and enable the public domain, in spite of recent
legislation, what more can be done to effectively make works in
the public domain more accessible and to encourage donations of
work to the public domain?
1 Sep 2000 22:52:47 -0400
From: Eric Eldred <firstname.lastname@example.org
To: Multiple recipients of list <email@example.com
Subject: Re: U.S. copyright registration process
On Wed, Aug 30, 2000 at 10:10:08AM -0700, Cumbow, Robert
>Just having a searchable database of active copyrights
and their owners is reason
> enough to preserve the registration system, in my view
(though I wish the LoC's
>copyright database were even half as user-friendly as the
PTO's trademark database).
> The trouble is, the database is only as good as its
ability to approach completeness
>and reliability. Since the US adopted Berne, I am sure
that the vast majority of copyright
> owners do not register ... and sections 411 and 412
simply don't offer enough incentive
> to do so.
renewals were part of the law it was easier to track down
copyright owners. The LoC copyright database is for only
1978+ works: telnet to locis.loc.gov. [[though now see more
user-friendly http://www.loc.gov/copyright/search - DLG]]
list of renewals online (formerly at CMU, now at http://digital.library.upenn.edu/books/cce
) is of
course not authoritative, and not a database, but the images and
index have recently been improved.
the role of tax incentives (that have worked wonders for museums
in acquiring "physical property")
- Definition of
the public domain, its importance and its shrinkage as a
result of copyright term extension, database protection.
- See NINCH
Town Meetings on this subject:
- Efforts to
encourage expansion of the public domain
Library of Science
from the Open Source software movement
of limited public domain locking away of the 20th
- Scenarios of
what it would be like with no PD; what is our preferred
future of PD?
- How to raise
public awareness of this issue (storiesdo we have
- Can content
that contributes to the good of society, the progress of
science, be somehow distinguished from entertainment
focused content? Would this be a useful distinction?
rhetoric on the "public good" value of
intellectual property -
rich get to quote and the poor have to
paraphrase" John Unsworth
- Need to
create incentives for IP owners
- Other forms
of IPart, film, video, music
What are the issues here?
1) An advocacy
position. We lobby
- --for the
preservation of the "public domain" in the
expected arenas: reduction of the period of copyright or
at least preservation of the concept of limited
- --for a
statutory definition of the "public domain." At
this point "public domain" only seems to refer
to that state that exists when copyright no longer
applies. More can be said on this.
- --for an
extension of the concept of the "public domain"
to include all those uses that fall to the public; this
can include the concept of "fair use."
- --for the PD
as a legal state of ownership held in trust by society
for the benefit of the public. This might be used to
split the public domain content out of unique works (i.e.
art works), from ownership of the physical entity.
exploratory and investigative agenda:
- discussion of
the customary and historical concepts used to define the
public domain. See Robert Baron's article on the
metaphors used to define the public domain (Robert's
- compare and
contrast the meaning of the PD as defined by various
stake-holders: including mass-media and individual
strategies used to create end-runs around preserving the
public domain and efforts to create public domain
conservancies. Include here Howard Besser's (and others')
analysis of the "public commons."
alternative economic models
(depends on format of conference)
- David Bearman
Knowledge Conservancy; incentives to build PD
Shamos Knowledge Conservancy;
- Harold Varmus
Public Library of Science; public good of
Davis, MIT Alternatives economic models to support
- Tim O'Reilly,
O'Reilly Associates Open Source software and
implications for IP
- Tyler Ochoa (Whittier College
of Law) - articulate, experience with Town Meetings;
could present a discussion of the public domain as a
public trust. He is quite versatile and always goes back
to the law, itself.
- Siva Vaidhyanathan - to
discuss the social, political and intellectual
significance of maintaining a strong public domain
- Kathleen Butler (VRA Town
Meeting, San Francisco) could bring up some of the legal
issues that could be considered outside of those I
already noted: i.e. the role that contracts have played
to limit access to the Public Domain and opportunities to
make PD trump contract law.