Extend copyright laws, you won’t regret it.

Firstly, I think it would be wise to acknowledge the obvious – that copyright law differs from country to country but that the West has dominated the discourse surrounding it for decades. Even with seemingly egalitarian international agreements, countries such as the US and Canada determine what many view as the “standard” for copyright law. Having lived in the Global South, I have a differing view of what copyright law should be. I shall, therefore, divide my opinion into: “what Grace the person thinks” and “what Grace the publisher thinks”. Only because I am talking about publishing shall I focus on the US and Canada. Oh, and one last disclaimer,  I am centering my argument on the creative sector only.

Grace the person believes that the creator of an original piece of work should be able to financially benefit from that work and that they should be able to set the rules about when they want that work to fall into the public domain. Idealistic, yes, but fair. They created it, why should they not determine when they as well as their families for generations to come should benefit from it? I recognise that this may cause confusion as this will entail eliminating the government as the overriding voice in issues of the law. Also, there are countless creators in the creative sector and it will be tough to keep track of what each individual wants. Therefore, the more realistic suggestion I guess would be to give creators of original pieces of work autonomy by extending the copyright laws currently in place.

Life+70 in the States and Life+50 in Canada are not only beneficial to creators from a financial standpoint but they force other people to create their own innovative works as opposed to reinventions or reuses of existing ones. Some may argue that “nothing is new under the sun” and that I am wrong to call any work truly “original” but I disagree. Human innovation has produced some bona fide work and to keep this influx flowing, copyright laws should remain as they are or be extended. If I were to practically change the laws, I would increase them to life +100 in the US and life + 70 in Canada as a start.

Before you begin to think that I am against the sharing economy, I am not. I believe in collaboration and that people can draw inspiration from each other. I even believe in the usefulness of fair dealing. I just believe that society should not feel entitled to the creative work of others. And unless a deal is struck with the original creator of the work or unless the original creator gives express permission during their lives, then their work should be theirs even up to a century after their death. Also, a lot can happen in a century, technology can shift massively and by the time the works fall into the public domain, careful thought might have been given on how to work with it and space would have been made to welcome a new wave of creativity.

Grace the publisher

In an article titled A Publishing Contract Should Not Be Forever, the Authors Guild in the United States argues that Life+70 should not apply to the publishing industry because most contracts between publisher and author favour the publisher and leave the author without a way to defend their original work. I will not lie; this leaves me conflicted. Grace the person, for example, would say that as the original creator of the work, an author should be in control of it and that publishers should not have complete rights over the work of others. The budding publisher in me, however, has now seen how much goes into the polishing of a manuscript and how much labour the publisher puts in before a work can go to market and believes that Life+70 should stay in the hands of the publisher. If ever the publisher stops adding value to the piece of work, however, the rights should revert back to the author. This will make publishers accountable, to try and get the best out of the market in a mutually beneficial way.

As you can tell what I believe as a person does not always align with what I believe when I put my business cap on. Please notice that the scope of my discussion is copyright law in relation to people and not corporate entities because this is what I am familiar with. Let creators and their estates benefit from their work and may this motivate others to innovate!

These opinions are different to those of the majority but do not condemn them just yet- let us continue the conversation instead!:)

A New Kind of Culture Needs A New Kind of Law

I’ve stated pretty openly that I see the Internet as ushering a new era–not just of technological capability, but of influence over human moral and societal structures.  Gopnik’s idea of the Internet  as a “contraption [that] may shape our consciousness, but it is our consciousness that makes our credos, and we mostly live by those” stuck with me. I argued that

“We’ve moved beyond the fact of the Internet being merely a ‘presence’ or ‘contraption.’ It is a society in and of itself, a virtual reality overlaid a physical one, but with no less real repercussions. Human “consciousness” and thus “credos” are influenced, expanded and rewired in the face of a multitude of subjectivities and an extra layer of reality, the human world will expand, collapse, and change in ways we can, at this moment, only speculate.” 

My argument sounds a bit New Agey, even to me, but the opportunity to look critically at current copyright law in the face of digital information sharing via the Internet is an interesting case study to illustrate my line of thinking. If we begin to think of use, function, and sharing beyond only print culture and expand to adapt to the realities of electronic culture, the laws and protections regarding intellectual property will need to find a balance which benefits creators, publishers and the public. The model for this already exists: it’s called the Creative Commons. 

In the 1960’s, Marshall McLuhan proclaimed that society was moving from the print age to the electronic age– one in which print culture is replaced by electronic aural and oral culture– I would go a step further to add “participatory culture”. McLuhan argued that the fragmented nature of electronic transactions would cause society to reassemble itself in a kind of “global village” or collectivism. Keeping in mind this prediction was made 30 years before the invention of the Internet and yet uncannily describes it, one must imagine a McLuhanian argument in regards to intellectual property: that the enclosure, or contemporary copyright law, is no longer valid because the law was a result of print technology. From the 1710 Statue of Anne, this law was considered a compromise between the utilitarian position of intellectual property, which valued published work in regards to public interest, versus the natural-rights position, which valued the individual’s right over their creation (Hesse 36). The current Canadian Copyright Act , and similarly copyright laws in other nations, apply copyright only to intellectual property that has been recorded. In Western tradition, for better or worse, this makes sense as communication, ownership, and idea transmission has travelled via printed text. But print and recording are based on a concept of stasis: that the original is the authority and any copy is just that, a replica. The individual, the singular original, is the foundation of print culture and by extension, copyright. When we consider the nature of electronic communication, its inherent copy mode of transmission, editable and shareable capabilities, current copyright law feels like a small square cage for a gigantic, amorphous creature.

As a person involved in artistic production, I am aware and stand by an artist’s right to their work and labour. I imagine I might be upset if I found another person profiting from the copy and resale of a piece of art I had made. On the other hand, I don’t believe anything is truly original and that human creation has always been a form of re-creation.  I am a proponent of the iterative process that involves reinterpreting existing works– be they chords of a song, a pharmaceutical formula, lines of coding– to make something better, even ground-breaking.  This is no different in the digital age; it is amplified. How can creation happen if creations are locked down to one rights holder?

The answer, I believe, stands in the Creative Commons model. Creative Commons is a non-profit organaization that provides legal creative rights for creators to apply to their work which both protects the natural-rights of the author as well as specifies the level of usage (access within the public domain) the author chooses the work to have. Since it is applied by the creators, it overrides any kind of automatic copyright and puts agency into the hands of the maker.  Imagine if graphic novelists or musicians all chose to allow their work to exist under Creative Commons: scanners of comics and remixers distributing their creations would be celebrated, not penalized; creative iteration would proliferate; and the creator’s intellectual property would be legally protected. Current protectionism around intellectual property is often founded in fear of a loss of profit, for the author but primarily for the publisher. This was true in 1710 for the Stationers’ Company, when the purchase of printed copies of a work were the only way to access the work or make profit off of it. It is understandable that publishers, on or offline, would want to maintain this control today– protected copies are their lifeblood. However, unlike the 14-year term of the Statute of Anne, Canada now sees a term of life+50 years, with chances of an increase as Canada negotiates with the US term of 75 years in NAFTA talks. The bottom line, for me, is that the electronic, aural, oral, and participatory culture–that is, the user– is going to drive the use of content, whether authors, publisher or the law likes it or not.  James Boyle sums up the argument for shorter copyright terms and bringing work under Creative Commons neatly:

“The goal of the system ought to be to give the monopoly only for as long as necessary to provide an incentive. After that, we should let the work fall into the public domain where all of us can use it, transform it, adapt it, build on it, republish it as we wish.” (11)

The transition of any era is difficult. It is hard to shed ingrained (brainwashed?) ideas about the meaning of property and ownership. As global society moves into a globalized, connected and accessible framework, legal protection of content needs to move as well. I propose it move out into the Common.

 

Works Cited

Boyle, James. 2008. The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind. Yale University Press. http://www.thepublicdomain.org/.

Hesse, Carla. 2002. “The Rise of Intellectual Property, 700 B.C.–A.D. 2000: An Idea in the Balance.” Daedelushttp://www.amacad.org/publications/spring2002/hesse.pdf.

Orphans and Small Presses: When Does Copyright Come Into Play?

Copyright in its current form aims to protect the work produced by creatives—authors, artists, designers, publishers, etc.—by not allowing others to publish (that is, to make public) their work without the proper permissions. The reason for this is to ensure the creator of the work is properly compensated for the creative work they have produced, and so the creator does not suffer loss whether monetary or otherwise from the unauthorized publication of their work.

Copyright law is extensive and confusing, and not all creators or publishers (or people in general) understand it—hence why we’ve had multiple classes on the topic in our master’s program. As a future publisher (in the not-so-distant future), I want to raise two questions with current copyright law. One, we’ve talked about before in class: what to do with orphan works, and should copyright have to be renewed. And two, a “how does copyright factor in this” question about small publishers with backlist books from big name authors.

In the digital age, a lot of people expect all content to be available at their fingertips online. As a society, we’re not far off from that, but copyright does limit the (online and print) publication of works—not everything that has been created is or has been publicly available. In Hannah’s History of Publishing course, we’ve talked about preserving history through writing and publication, and it’s a great cause but copyright is preventing the public from seeing and experiencing works that have no discernible owner. After the original creator has died, their estate inherits their copyright, but the owner of their estate may not realize that they own copyright to any work; this also may not be public knowledge, so tracking down owners of estates with copyright can be extraordinarily difficult.

When copyright is a possible issue for a piece being published but the publisher cannot locate the copyright holder, the publisher can either err on the side of caution and not publish the piece, or hope the copyright holder does not come forward and publish the piece anyway, as Scott Steedman did with one of his press’s books. The former keeps the publisher safe, but limits the works available to the public. The latter can be risky, but is ultimately in the public’s best interest by making more works available.

In order to limit the number of orphan works and maintain the rights and protection copyright law allows, it should be considered that copyright law be changed to require estate owners to renew or check-in the copyrighted works they now own and register it in their name so they are more easily found by those who seek them for copyright purposes. (Of course, there would be security and privacy issues with this change in the law, but that’s a topic for another course.) With this change, publishers could find copyright owners easier and do their due diligence, and it would, I believe, ultimately lead to more works being available to the public.

The second issue I wanted to bring up has to do with small publishers who have published works by authors who have since become best sellers with larger publishing houses. I’m not 100% sure this is a copyright issue in itself, but the topic seems close so I’d like to bring it up and see what people think.

As a future small publisher (and someone who has worked with many small publishing houses), I believe the key to my business’s success is the success of the authors I work with. Sometimes, that author’s success will lead them to a larger publisher that can pay them more and offer a higher marketing budget than my small house can afford—and that’s okay. I recently read an article that contained interviews from small publishers in Canada and the US, the article discussed a situation with publisher Hawthorne Books and their author Monica Drake:

Seven of the publishers based in the Pacific Northwest had authors who had left to publish with a larger publisher. However, small publishers do not seem bitter about this, in fact, Hawthorne Books said “if they can get a better deal then I’m not opposed to that”. For example, Hawthorne Books published Clown Girl by Monica Drake: Crown (PenguinRandomHouse) offered a $10,000 advance for Drake’s next book while Hawthorne could only offer $1000. When talking about this move, Hawthorne Books said, “There was absolutely no hard feelings: I was delighted for her: it shines the light back on our catalogue and our books: A win for everyone.”

I would like to highlight that second-to-last line: “it shines a light back on our catalogue and our books.” As a small publisher, this is my view. If an author I published gets a major book deal at a larger publishing house, people will read their next book and want to read more of that author, and they’ll end up with a book on my backlist. This is a wonderful thing, and I think this clearly demonstrates how a publisher’s success is measured by their author’s success.

However, I wonder what copyright considerations come into play when the small press then wants to promote their backlist book by the same author when their new book is coming out, or if they want to promote their new book from the larger publisher to bring attention to their backlist. I do not have comprehensive knowledge on copyright, but after some of our discussions in class I wonder if there would be a copyright concern from the large publisher’s perspective (or the author’s perspective) for the small publisher to want to bank on their previous author’s success to sell their own backlist titles.

The need to preserve and protect oral histories and traditional knowledge

In my previous jobs working on a travel magazine, a design magazine and a film production house, part of my work entailed interviewing people and then writing a story, interspersing it with excerpts from the interviews. Interviewing became such an essential requirement of my job that I invested in a Dictaphone, which assured better audio quality than the voice recording app on my phone, which tended to capture too much ambient sound. In all those years of interviewing people, my focus was on researching for the interview, scheduling it, ensuring my interviewee was comfortable, that there were no technical hiccups, transcribing the interview (the longest and most painful part of the process), and then actually writing the story. Often, one story required me to interview as many as four people and that meant repeating the process four times. As you can imagine, my mental bandwidth was stretched thin and most often, I was just glad when it was done and I had submitted the story for publication. Not once did either I or the publication think of obtaining a signed consent from the interviewees and not once did the publishing firm or the film production house I was working for insist that I hand over the recordings of the interview and the entire transcription to them. Granted we weren’t involved in some major, earth-shaking scientific research, but what we were engaged in was still the recording, interpretation and sharing of oral histories. If there was one thing I would enforce with regards to copyright, it’s that people ensure oral histories and traditional knowledge gets protected and is treated with the same respect that is granted written knowledge.

Most historical knowledge from where I come, which is India, is in the form of either traditional knowledge or oral histories. Considering this knowledge dates back thousands of years, most of it is undocumented and not protected under any kind of intellectual property laws. Traditional Knowledge (or ‘TK’ as it is abbreviated) exists in India in the form of thousands of medicinal recipes and yoga asanas, and oral histories exist in the country in the form of folk songs, legends, and folklore and, more recently, in the form of stories of those who suffered India’s Partition in 1947 and the wars of 1962, 1965 and 1971. It is only recently that there has been a concerted effort to document and preserve these forms of indigenous knowledge. The government of India set up the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) to undertake the mammoth task of documenting nearly 2,260,000 medicinal formulations in multiple languages and 1500 yoga asanas. This happened in response to applications filed in the Europe and US that attempted to patent what were actually traditional Indian medicinal formulations. To safeguard India’s oral history, various projects – such as those undertaken by the Oral History Association of India (OHAI), the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, the Amritsar Partition Museum and the 1947 Partition Archive – are involved in the painstaking recording, transcription and preservation of histories from the mouth of those that witnessed and experienced it. These histories, indeed, challenge history itself, as most do not conform to the textbook or government-sanctioned version of events as we know them. And as commendable as these projects are, one needs to think whether enough measures are being taken to ensure that these efforts are being protected against misuse.

In the Indian media industry – I use the term broadly to encompass television, film, and literature – there’s a certain laissez-faire attitude when it comes to following protocol. On a documentary film I worked on, I interviewed survivors of an oil-rig disaster, considered at the time to be one among the 10 worst oil-rig disasters in the world. The stories I recorded – from ship captains, divers, mechanics and other rig personnel – recounted events that did not necessarily corroborate with information that was disseminated by the oil company and were hence, highly sensitive in nature. In spite of this, we were not required to get any consent forms signed by the interviewees. Nor were the tapes and audio files of those interviews archived in any library or institution. And this practice continues across various forms of media. The ephemeral nature of magazine publishing makes it easy for the people involved to ignore documentation, especially when it is not enforced. Due diligence is an inconvenience when there are narrow timelines and tight deadlines to be met. But when what is presented – either via film, a story or a web post – is an extraction of a longer piece of oral history, the same needs to be assiduously protected and preserved for posterity and future knowledge. As a society we need to acknowledge that there are other forms of knowledge as legitimate as those which have been documented and when we participate in the recording of unconventional forms of history, we need to ensure certain steps are taken to protect them from misuse and appropriation.

Copyright Clarified

Copyright is a contentious issue. It’s difficult to come to a consensus, as a society, on what rights a creator should maintain to their product and what rights a consumer should have on it. On one end, their is the individualistic idea that the creator should maintain absolute right to their creation: consumers merely pay for a license to use it as it is meant to be used and they are never truly owners of the object. Polar to that is collectivism, where a creator never owns anything they create, as a person is just a manifestation of the larger society they belong to and it is the societies right to own what the individual creates.

As far as I’m concerned, copyright law should take a spot in the middle that allows the creator to be compensated for the time and effort put into the creation, but just as equally recognizes the fact that no person creates out of a void and is drawing from everything society as a whole has crafted, and so society as a whole should benefit from it.

I do believe that the right to make copies of a thing should fundamentally remain with the creator, and the right to give those rights away belong to the creator (the thing being an expression of an idea and not an idea itself as current copyright law requires). This is the foundation of current copyright law and this might be where I depart a little bit from it.

I will cursorily note that I think the period of copyright is way too long and that everything should enter public domain immediately upon the creators’ death since, just as that creator benefited from society, society must then benefit from them. But what I would rather talk more about is, what seems to me, a growing argument these days about the control of and right to a specific manifestation of a creation. This conversation seems to stem from DRM and how the digital world has disrupted the physical idea of sharing.

 

Although there are a lot of dystopic predictions about how DRM will affect society in the long run, as well as some not-so-great uses of it happening already, the principle of it—to allow us to mimic the limitations of physical world sharing—is important. When somebody purchases something, such as a movie or an ebook, they should not be allowed to copy it and send it to somebody else. Can they invite their friends over to watch the movie with them? Can they lend the eBook reader they purchased the eBook on to their friend to read it? Absolutely. How they use or share their purchased copy of a thing should be completely up to them, except in the case of recreating another copy of it to be distributed.

But the language seems to be changing from ownership of something, to licensing the thing. And in licensing it you are agreeing to access to it so long as you only use it for a set specific intended uses. And the idea of DRM getting out of control and further controlling how people use products they buy is a scary one. DRM is a great tool for enforcing cases of copyright infringement, but as the article points out with GM using DRM to control who can diagnose an engine, it can also allow the creator to maintain too much control of a specific instance of their product that they sold.

 

But I don’t think it’s DRM and the current DMCA Section 1201 that is the root of the problem; I think as a society we tend to allow some of the bigger corporations to continue control of their product beyond sale. More generally, we as a society encourage the idea of ownership and possession beyond what is reasonable. DRM laws are just a single manifestation of it.

Outside of copyright, I would point to the case of Monsanto vs Schmeiser as a comparable example of how this mentality exists apart from DRM. Monsanto essentially licenses the use of their seeds to a farmer on the basis the farmer will not replant the seeds produced by the plant the following year but instead purchase new seeds. To me this is an example of our society protecting unjust overextended ownership of a corporation.

I think in copyright, and in all laws governing the ownership and use of purchased things, it is very important we lean towards the consumer having complete ownership of and right to use what they purchase in whatever way they want, barring reproducing it (unless the creator has explicitly given the right of reproduction away). In order to protect the creator’s livelihood, the right of reproduction is important. But licensing use seems to go beyond that into protecting the creators’ further interests and that, I don’t think, is something that can be justly protected by law, as it begins to lean too far on the individualistic side.

Copyright Check Ins

It seems as though there is no easy answer when it comes to copyright law. Some believe that copyright on a creation should run indefinitely, with no need to renew. Some believe that a creation’s copyright should be renewed every 5 years, to ensure that creators do not abandon their work and make it seemingly impossible for others to legally use the work (as creators cannot be contacted to give permission).

Currently, copyright law in Canada extends to life of the author plus 50 years after his or her death. Many problems arise when creators go missing, leaving orphan works behind. Individuals who want to use these orphan creations in other formats often fear persecution should they be caught using the material without permission.

While I see no problem with copyright extending to life plus 50 years after death, there needs to be a more evolved process for avoiding orphan works. While copyright need not be renewed periodically, creators should be required to “check in” with their works, acknowledging that, yes, they are still claiming the work as theirs and require requests for permission to use the material, and update their contact information if need be so people interested in using the material can reach the creator and ask for permissions. These check ins could be reflected in the cost of of registering a copyright. Currently, filing an application for copyright registration for a work or other subject-matter in Canada via the CIPO website is $50 CDN. Filing an application by fax or mail is $65 CDN.” If a creator signed a contract to check in with their work on a yearly basis, the registration fee could be decreased, perhaps to only $25. If a creator only signed on to check in with their work every 5 or 10 years, the cost of registration would increase. If a check in was missed, a penalty fee would be charged to the creator. By having a monetary incentive, creators would likely be more motivated to not leave their works behind. Other creators who may want to use copyrighted material would no longer have to abandon projects because of M.I.A. copyright owners, or live in fear of getting sued for using orphan works.

 

–Jesse Savage

COPYRIGHT IS A DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD

As a future publisher what is your stance on copyright law? If you could, how would you reform current copyright law and how (and to whom) will this be beneficial?

It is always a grey area whenever we talk about plagiarism, copyright and piracy. There’s no simple answer to which one is alright and which one is not. There’s also no strong indication to which parties are benefited from it and which parties are at loss.

Think about it as a double-edged sword. Either side could kill, depending on where you stand. If you are the creator, you are gonna say that you, as the owner, should not be deprived of the basic rights to claim ownership to works you’ve created. Copyright laws, altogether, help regulate the use and distribution of these works and/ ‘expressions’ of ideas and by eliminating/altering it could diminish the incentive to create and innovate, knowing that your work can be copied and distributed without being attributed. You may also say that there is no reason to encourage people to possess a false sense of entitlement to ‘free’ content, especially on the internet. Monetization could also be guarded solely to its respectful ‘owners’.

The case is different when you are the user.  You will say that copyright prevents the spread of technology, creativity and innovation. By eliminating/altering the copyright laws, innovation would widen, inventors could borrow ideas from others to better their chance of making a breakthrough.  You will also say that the laws are outdated because copyright laws were created before we had the technological advancement we have today which allows for much of the ‘infringing’ behaviour and is quite inevitable. Many copyright holders now are more eager to get their work seen than to make money off of it, thus copyright laws should change in order to embrace this new turn in the digital age.

As evident as it seems, it always leads to money. Whoever gets to monetize from this ‘infringement’ is the one benefited from the law and whoever is not benefited from it is at loss. Let’s illustrate it this way : you are an author and you like it when one of your fan shared your work online out of love. It gets you more exposure, thus will generate more money for you and your publisher. No copyright infringement. Then, this fan of yours is starting to find a way to monetize your work to his/her own gain, thus you are at loss. Copyright infringement detected.

So what exactly is my stance on copyright laws? Again, it depends on where I am standing, will the sword kill me?

The government may reform the copyright laws in adjust to today’s technology, but to whom will it be beneficial? Again, it depends on which side of the sword you are standing. I can’t simply think of a better solution than what we already have now: fair use and open access. Plagiarism is still inevitable because there is only such extend to human capabilities and it is inevitable.

 

Let’s Grow Project Gutenberg! And, yeah, Disney can Keep Their Money Too

My ideal envisioning of copyright law is that only things that content creators actively want to keep protected by copyright should be kept under copyright. That seems only logical. Why not have copyright come up for renewal every five or ten years, and put the onus upon content creators (or content owners) to have an active role in maintaining possession of copyright?

One fair argument I’ve heard in response to this is that some content creators may not be able to pay for copyright to be renewed. To which I argue: why not make copyright renewal free? The argument is fair on the basis that we assume it costs an undue amount to renew copyright. But currently, there’s no reason for that to happen. Right now, copyright is automatic and immediately instated for life plus seventy years. That funding doesn’t exist in the first place. We would simply be adding an extra step to the process on the part of the content creator.

If this compromise were made, all the content that is now considered “orphaned” would be available to the common public. Content creators that had an active investment in their past work would still retain their copyright and continue to be able to monetize their creation, but the default state would be that lapsed content entered the public domain. In this ideal scenario, if the Disney corporation wanted to hold onto Mickey Mouse, they should be able to renew that for as long as they like. The corporations win, the public wins – all is fair.

Right now, copyright law is slowly becoming arbitrary. Every time Mickey Mouse butts up against the threshold to the public domain, Disney throws dollars behind pushing the extent of copyright law out further. Eventually, the theory behind copyright law having an expiration will erode. To prevent this, we need to envision a completely restructured copyright law. What are the interests of the two conflicting parties? Content owners and creators want any and all economical gains from their products. Users want uninhibited use of the content they consume. There are complex, intricate ways that each of their desires positively affects the other, but when it comes down to it, the best compromise is to make the party benefiting from the monetization of a product responsible for its continued security under copyright law. In practical terms this means that if a publisher has taken on the rights of an author’s book (or a character has become the property of a movie production company) that company then has the ability to act as an extension of the content creator’s life. As a future publisher, I believe that the “long tail” will not be hindered should the publisher choose to continually renew its backlist. And if they want their books to enter the public domain? Perhaps there’s some wisdom to that too.

The practical issue that arises with this solution is that then every single piece of content ever created and monetized will now have to be filed, like it was in the beginning. What I am proposing essentially goes back to the original intention of copyright – short periods of copyright, with options to renew once – with the exception that content owners could renew indefinitely. If that function was already set up back in the earliest days of copyright in the United States, then surely it can be replicated again today.

And the biggest benefit of this, of course, is that all that murky gray area that surrounds what’s covered under copyright and what isn’t is gone. Millions of works will enter the public domain and be accessible to more people around the world. Derivative works can be created. And who doesn’t need more She’s The Man? 

Works Consulted:

https://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-general.html#what

https://priceonomics.com/how-mickey-mouse-evades-the-public-domain/