by Mike Masnick
Thu, Apr 23rd 2009 5:10pm
There's a popular saying among copyright maximalists, that if copyright must be "for limited times," it should be "forever minus a day." And, in fact, part of the problem with the so-called "education" campaign that copyright supporters have been pushing over the past decade or so is that they never bother to spend much time on consumer rights, fair use or the importance of the public domain. So, it should come as little surprise that the default thinking among many is that copyright does, in fact, last forever. Witness this story that plenty of folks have been sending in, about the United Nations new World Digital Library that has posted ancient texts from around the world. Just one problem... the site is claiming that the texts may be covered by copyright, even though many of the texts are older than 8,000 years. Obviously, the copyright claim is wrong, but it seems to be the default position taken by lawyers these days, and many people who have falsely been told that "sharing" equals "theft" will believe that copyright lasts forever. For anyone who actually recognizes the importance and value of the public domain, and how it's helped expand our creative culture over the years, this should be quite depressing.
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