Friday, June 6, 2003

Stanford University law professor Lawrence Lessig, having failed to convince the U.S. Supreme Court to limit copyright renewals, is now petitioning Congress to set new copyright renewal policies. Mr. Lessig's central contention is that the 98 percent of content that has no commercial value in and of itself after fifty years will be better served if it can drift into the public domain, where archivist specialists such as archive.org will be best suited to ensure its long-term viability. Now he is starting a petition campaign via email and weblogs to convince Congress to take this matter up. In the wake of the public furor over the Federal Communications Commission's liberalization of media outlet ownership, he may just have a chance of getting Congress' attention if he keeps up the pace. In the space of three days, petition registrants have swelled from 2,000 to 10,000 and growing rapidly, according to his latest weblog entry. There's no doubt that industry represntatives still control much of the shape of the content industry's legal framework, but with these kinds of movements led by intelligent people in the know, the shape of intellectual property law may face some significant challenges in the years ahead.
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