Denying The Public Domain Has A Very Real Cost
from the which-should-not-be-ignored dept
One of the problems with copyright extension is that there’s rarely anyone to take up the public’s side of the argument. After all, in theory, copyright is supposed to be a bargain between the public and content creators, where the creators get a limited monopoly, and the public gets more content added to the public domain in the long run (increasingly getting longer). But, when it comes time for copyright extension debates, the only people heard from tend to be the content creators. The main assumption is often that there’s no “cost” to keeping works protected by copyright. In fact politicians have, at times, even argued that copyright doesn’t have an impact on price of works, as they argued in favor of copyright extension.
Rufus Pollock has now released two new studies on the size and value of the public domain in the EU, which shows that this argument is false. The public domain creates plenty of value and extending copyright does have a very real cost. It’s not easy to calculate the specific cost, because the data necessary is not always available, but in areas where Pollock and his collaborators were able to get the necessary data, they showed that there’s clearly value created by the public domain — and we should not ignore that in copyright debates. Separately, the paper on valuing the public domain seems like an excellent one for use in the future in setting up a clear methodology for calculating “value” (as opposed to price) for works under copyright vs. the public domain. Most of the paper is really about the methodology of trying to figure out something that is not easily calculated (value).