Over the years, we've seen numerous ideas and recommendations for ways to fix copyright, and a popular one is getting rid of the automatic creation of copyright on new works, requiring individuals to actually register that work -- often combined with a shorter time limit on copyrights that would have a renewal option. Larry Lessig has long supported such a system. The thinking is that this still lets those big companies who want to hoard their copyrights forever do so, but opens up plenty of other orphaned content that is locked down just because Disney doesn't want to lose the copyright on Mickey Mouse. Benjamin Krueger points us to Andrew Dubber's recent proposal of switching to a five-year renewable copyright plan
, that also includes a use-it-or-lose it clause. Basically, copyright holders who want to retain their copyright can do so, but they have to renew the registration once every five years. And, during those five years, the content has to be available commercially one way or another. This way, if content is being neglected, ignored, abandoned or orphaned, it makes its way into the public domain in short order, where perhaps others can make it more useful. This would seem to fit much more closely with the original purpose of copyright law, though (as per usual), I'm sure there will be many complaints from copyright holders about how such a system would destroy their rights. When reading through those, though, note that they never seem very concerned with the rights of the public either.