Copyright trolling has gotten out of control. Here's a rant on how estates and corporations here have actually been abusing said system:
Even when a work becomes public domain in the USA, there are still ways to perpetual copyright : Trademarking the name, for example. The 2012 case of Golan v. Holder copyright restored many public foreign works here that were still copyrighted in their native countries. Also, even domestic works can get re-copyrighted, even if there was failure to renew its copyright. A famous case was "It's A Wonderful Life" became public domain in 1975 because a clerical error failed to renew the copyright. But it got a re-copyright of sorts here.
Look up the 1990 Stewart V. Abend case. Republic Pictures (the successor to a film company that had the movie copyrights until 1975) had the films rights to the book that the movie is based off of and the music rights, so they did a copyright restoration of sorts to the film in 1993 by citing Abend. An Information Tech Law Wiki article (itlaw.wikia.com/wiki/Stewart_v._Abe...) summarizes the SCOTUS ruling for this case.
Through some library acquisitions and company mergers, the film is now under copyright by Paramount Pictures. Under current copyright law, the soundtrack copyrights, provided no extensions are made, will expire in Feb. 2067. By this, I take it that the film with the music will be public domain (again) in Feb. 2067.
As long as a the rights holder is still making money from that work through other rights (music, privacy, publicity) then those works are not actually public domain. In terms of IP, I define a work being in 'public domain" here as when the rights holders can no longer legally make any money off of any the IP rights coming from that work. Now, I can handle a derivative work (like a colorized version but maximalists doing digital restorations should not count) since at least an initial work is public domain.
Even if all the, you still can't title a book "Tarzan" without asking ERB, Inc. This is because that name is trademarked. As such, it acts as a perpetual copyright. How else have our copyrights laws become screwed up? Say 1 of the Weissmuller Tarzan movies is out of film copyright but still has the music copyrights. .
If IP infringement is deemed theft by many people, then re-copyrights and the trademarking a public domain name is "public domain infringement" and thus stealing form the public.
I would put the copyright length at 50 years maximum and no extensions are allowed. If the creator dies before 50 years pass, the length is # of years passed before they died+ # of years left until it equals 50. For example, dying at 25 years in means it's 25 more years until the public domain kicks in.
With this, each and every copyright they had tied a specific work (for a movie, the script, music, etc.) all becomes public domain at the same time.
All of the above also would apply to trademarks.
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