Copyright Is An Exception To The Public Domain

from the a-manifesto dept

A bunch of folks have been sending in this wonderful Public Domain Manifesto, put together by Communia. It's a wonderful read, highlighting the importance and value of the public domain, and putting forth a series of general principles which appear to make a lot of sense. It also discusses other aspects of related issues, such as the importance of individuals choosing to not use copyright, as well as the value of fair use and fair dealing. The point is both to highlight how important the public domain is to a vital thriving culture, and also to point out how the public domain has been steadily eroded over the last few decades. A key point is found in the first principle, and it's to remind everyone that copyright is an exception to the public domain, not the other way around:
The Public Domain is the rule, copyright protection is the exception. Since copyright protection is granted only with respect to original forms of expression, the vast majority of data, information and ideas produced worldwide at any given time belongs to the Public Domain. In addition to information that is not eligible for protection, the Public Domain is enlarged every year by works whose term of protection expires. The combined application of the requirements for protection and the limited duration of the copyright protection contribute to the wealth of the Public Domain so as to ensure access to our shared culture and knowledge.
Unfortunately, it's rarely thought about like this. Instead, most people consider copyright to be the rule, and things like the public domain and fair use to be exceptions. This is a problem, and it impacts how people view, understand and respond to things like copyright and the public domain itself.

To be honest, I have no idea how useful something like this manifesto really will be. Very few politicians seem to understand or care about the public domain and its importance. The manifesto might not have much of an impact on its own, but as a general set of principles for people to understand and gather behind it does seem like a good thing.

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  1. icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), 25 Jan 2010 @ 6:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: This needs to become a meme

    Um...OK, but my point was that they "think" they are free marketers. Just ask them, or read what they write.

    Like the RIAA that wants to limit your legal ability to do a variety of things and control every aspect of the market, THEN have a "free market" for music. They just need a couple of new laws to support this "free market".

    Or the tech product makers that make reverse engineering a crime under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, then support the "free market". Sure, just so long as competition can be limited because people can't build competing or complementary products without reverse-engineering to their specs.

    Or wireless telcos who rely on spectrum regulation for their services to work, then argue for a "free market".

    Or fixed telcos who received free rights of way, franchises, monopoly periods, and funding help from the government to deploy their networks, then argue for a "free market" for Broadband service. (Hands Off The Internet dot org)

    Of the thousands of companies that don't want to count economic externalities like pollution as a cost of their business, then argue for a "free market" for their goods and services (so long as we exclude their negative goods).

    Not to say here whether any regulation is good or bad, but lots of people think they are in favor of de-regulation and free markets, but choose simply to ignore the times when they're not. They show up all the time in the Techdirt discussions, for example, in favor of patents so the "free market" can thrive.

    So there. Yes, they do.

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