RE: SOPA & PIPA — It’s not over, by a long shot!

Just in case you’re feelin’ pretty cocky right now with respect to the protests against these ridiculous copyright bills, along with members of both Congress & Senate pulling their support — DON’T!!!  This isn’t going to go away.  In fact, it’s probably just the tip of the iceberg before even more restrictive legislation is proposed over the coming years.  Remember — the content industry has been fighting for this kind of control for over 300 years, starting with the printers guild in England in the 1700’s.  And over this 300+ year period, absolutely nothing has changed.  Thank goodness both Britain’s parliamentarians (Thomas Babington Macaulay) & our own founding fathers (Thomas Jefferson) realized copyright for what it is — a monopoly, and as always the case — monopolies get abused.

Please realize that the people/corporations pushing the hardest for draconian restrictions on the Internet with respect to copyright infringement ARE THE MIDDLEMEN!!!  They have religiously fought ALL new technologies & innovations, only adapting (and profiting from them) when forced to do so, i.e., radio, TV, cassette tapes, VCRs, MP3 Players, and TIVO to name just the most recent “technologies” that were “forced” upon the content industry.  Had copyright law been as stringent as it is today, we likely would have none of these or even the Internet as we know it!

When the US passed it’s first copyright law in 1790, it was for a duration of 14 years, renewable only once for an additional 14 yr term (28 years total).  Content not only had to be registered for copyright protection, but the content owner also had to register for the one-time 14 yr extension.  During these years, over 85% of registered copyrights WERE NOT renewed for the extension!  Where are we now?  No registration is required, and the copyright term is over 95 yrs in length!  And it includes not only books, music,  movies & much more, but SOFTWARE, too!  Copyright law has been continuously expanded, in both scope and length, over the past hundred years.  That’s right — it’s just another monopoly, with all the stink & corruption that goes hand-in-hand with monopolies.

And guess what?  This still isn’t enough for the content industry.  In fact, it will NEVER be enough.

Remember — piracy is the result of UNMET CONSUMER DEMAND.   As long as the content industry refuses to provide consumers with what they desire, then consumers will find a way to fill that void.

The following two articles posted this week discuss different reasons why this isn’t the end of the battle against piracy:

– “5 reasons why SOPA, PROTECT-IP and other legislative idiocy will never die” (ZDNet)

– “SOPA Defeat Is Not the End Of Hollywood’s Ramped-Up Fight Against Piracy (Analysis)” (The Hollywood Reporter)

I still stand by a previous post I made over a year ago — that copyright law has been distorted beyond any perceivable recognition.  It is broken & beyond repair.  In it’s current form, it has no place in our digital world.

Government Campaign against Intellectual Property Theft debunked

Both Mike Masnick at Techdirt and Nate Anderson at Ars Technica ripped to pieces the recently announced government campaign against intellectual property theft.  I do believe the “buffoonery” in the content industry has met it’s match!  You betcha — no other than the “buffoonery” of our own administration! (of course, the content industry probably wrote the script for the entire campaign.  It definitely “smells” like the MPAA…)

Mike Masnick’s White House’s Totally Clueless Response To Copyright Infringement: Call In McGruff The Crime Dog

Nate Anderson’s  White House-backed antipiracy video is Reefer Madness for the digital age

And don’t forget… as mentioned by Nate Anderson — “our tax dollars are paying for this.”

I was wrong… Xmas has come WAY early for the Content Industry!

Wow…  I sure as heck didn’t see this coming!  Attorney General Eric Holder gave a speech yesterday announcing a full-blown government campaign against intellectual property theft.  After 300+ years, the content industry has finally received it’s ultimate Xmas present – OUR government acting as THEIR copyright cops!  Add to this the fact that both the Congress & Senate are very likely going to pass their respective ‘internet-killing’ copyright bills (SOPA & Protect IP) within the next few weeks, and I imagine the content industry is in sheer ecstasy!  (I know I certainly would be!)

Wired  has an even more depressing article discussing Mr. Holder’s speech titledHolder Asks America to Remain ‘Vigilant,’ Report Intellectual-Property Crime.”  Yup… Yup… sounds like we have a new war now… the “War on IP Terror.”

Geez… and I was just in the middle of reading William F. Patry’s new book How to Fix Copyright.   This book is even better than his previous one published in 2009 titled Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars.”  I’m wondering if even he saw this coming???

These two books are #1 & #2 in my list of must read copyright books.   If you want to get “smart” on copyright really quick, then you’ve got to read these books.  They are both “eye-openers!”  I think I can guarantee that once you have read either one of them, you will “see the light” concerning just how truly ridiculous our copyright laws really are and why we are in the situation we find ourselves currently in.  You’ll also discover the terrible truth concerning the content industry, and how they – with our Administration’s help over the many years – have been instrumental in putting us right smack dab into this nasty position.  (Of course, we – the people – have to share in the blame for letting this happen.)

If you’re interested in trying to stop passage of SOPA and PROTECT-IP, visit either or both of the sites listed below:

American Censorship


A Century of Deceit from the Copyright Industry (Rick Falkvinge)

Rick Falkvinge has posted yet another great article at TorrentFreak titled The Copyright Industry — A Century of Deceit.   In it he takes a look at what the copyright industry has tried to ban and outlaw, or at least receive taxpayer money in compensation for, over the past 106 years.  It starts with the player piano (1905) and ends with the attempted addition of a “broadcast flag” to HDTV & DVRs in 2003.  The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) & Protect IP Act (PIPA) are merely their latest (and most dangerous, I might add) attempt to control and/or stifle technology in order to save their obsolete & failing business models.

Here’s a list of other excellent articles by Rick Falkvinge, most involving copyright.

On a lighter note, Mr. Falkvinge just earned a spot in Foreign Policy’s prestigious list of Top 100 Global Thinkers:

Falkvinge is in good company, listed among many key figures in the Arab Spring and world leaders such as Barack Obama and Angela Merkel.  Foreign Policy describes 2011 as the year where Falkvinge’s ideas about transparency, Internet privacy and copyright law are gaining in popularity.”


Colorado Yard Critters…

Besides our normal fare of yard critters (coyotes, foxes, squirrels, moles, man-eating goose & loud guinea hens), this larger critter (dat der muley deer) has been hanging out in our yard the past few days.

Front yard mule deer buck    Colorado mule deer (by garage)   Colorado mule deer in yard

Soaring Hard Disk Drive (HDD) Prices…

In case you haven’t noticed, hard disk drives (HDDs) have become much more expensive lately due to extreme flooding near Bangkok, Thailand, where both Western Digital and Toshiba were struck hard.  Seagate apparently wasn’t touched by the floods, but unfortunately many of the components it needs for HDD manufacturing were hit hard by the flooding.

Windows Secrets has a great article titled  What you can do about soaring hard-drive prices by Woody Leonhard that provides much more info than found elsewhere.

Another article from ComputerWorld titled Hard drive shortage expected to hurt consumers most.”


Five more “must read” SOPA/PROTECT-IP Articles…

I stumbled upon these five articles over the past week and all are well worth spending some time reading.

#1 is by Mike Maznick @ Techdirt that discusses the massive expansion of the copyright diplomatic core:

#2 is by the author of a new book titledCopyfraud and Other Abuses of Intellectual Property Law, Jason Mazzone.  He discusses how copyright owners, unhappy with the scope of protections that Congress has given them, routinely grab more rights than they are entitled to under the law. They do this at the expense of consumers and of the public at large.

#3 is another one by Mike Masnick (Techdirt) that discusses the previous article and points out how the entertainment industry is killing copyright.

#4 is by Rick Falkvinge and provides an entirely different point of view.  He suggests that we should thank the copyright industry for pointing out all the single points of failure that our civil liberties depend upon, as it will allow the public to rebuild those parts of our Internet infrastructure that will be broken with these bills.  It’s an EXCELLENT read!

And lastly, #5 is by Brian Proffitt of IT World, who warns that these bills, if passed, could destroy the availability & development of our free and open source software.

I hope you find these articles informative.

    RE: “The Coming Facist Internet” (Lauren Weinstein’s Blog)

    Yet another interesting blog post by Lauren Weinstein.  It discusses the history of the Internet (ARPANET), in which he was in the middle of, and how the phone companies & governments largely ignored it… until fairly recently.  Here’s an excerpt from his post:

    … But with the fullness of time, the phone companies, cable companies, governments, and politicians galore came to most intensely pay attention to the Internet, as did the entertainment industry behemoths and a broad range of other “intellectual property” interests.  …

    They want to control the Internet. They want to control it utterly, completely, in every technologically possible detail (and it seems in various technically impossible ways as well).The freedom of communications with which the Internet has empowered ordinary people — especially one-to-many communications that historically have been limited to governments and media empires themselves — is viewed as an existential threat to order, control, and profits — that is, to historical centers of power.

    Outside of the “traditional” aspects of government control over their citizenries, another key element of the new attempts to control the Net are desperate longings by some parties to turn back the technological clock to a time when music, movies, plus other works could not so easily be duplicated and disseminated in both “authorized” and “unauthorized” fashions.

    The effective fall of copyright in this context was preordained by human nature (we are physical animals, and the concept of non-physical “property” plays against our natures) and there’s been a relentless “march of bits” — with text, music, and movies entering the fray in turn as ever more data could be economically stored and transferred.

    In their efforts to control people and protect profits, governments and associated industries (often in league with powerful Internet Service Providers — ISPs — who in some respects are admittedly caught in the middle), seem willing to impose draconian, ultimately fascist censorship, identification, and other controls on the Internet and its users, even extending into the basic hardware in our homes and offices.

    I encourage you to read the entire post, as it’ll not only give you a taste of what it was like in the pre-Internet years, but also how it evolved to where we are today.   What worries me now is the government involvement and how they seem to be even MORE joined at the hip with the content industry.  Or, just maybe, might they have an agenda of their own???

    The attacks on fundamental freedoms to communicate that are represented by various government repression of the Internet around the world, and in the U.S. by hypocritical legislation like PROTECT IP and SOPA (E-PARASITE), are fundamentally fascist in nature, despite between wrapped in their various flags of national security, anti-piracy profit protection, motherhood, and apple pie.

    I’d like to think a bill like SOPA wouldn’t have a chance in hell of passing, but worse things have happened before.  Don’t know if any of you saw the 3-part PBS series on Prohibition a month or so ago,  but my reaction to it was “How could this have happened???”  Prohibition has to be one of the greatest examples of “unintended” consequences ever.  Don’t think our administration isn’t capable of making an even worse mistake with the Internet!

    One final excerpt from Lauren’s post:

    The Internet is one of the most important tools ever created by mankind. It certainly ranks with the printing press, and arguably in terms of our common futures on this tiny planet perhaps even with fire.

    The question is, are we ready and willing to fight for the Net as it should be in the name of civil rights and open communications? Or will we sit back compliantly, happily gobble down the occasional treats tossed in our direction, and watch as the Internet is perverted into a monstrous distortion to control speech and people alike, rather than enabling the spread of freedom.

    Words of wisdom.   I’ve become concerned mainly because this administration is so focused on this bill, in spite of everything else that is going on in the world, our economy, our huge debt, etc.  In addition, they have consistently refused to consider the concerns of the tech industry, other key organizations, and basically anyone who isn’t a card-carrying member of the content industry.

    We, the public, need to take a stand & let our so-called “representatives” know, as Lauren states above, “that we’re willing to fight for the Net as it should be.”

    Please contact your representatives, either by letter or via email  (Demand Progress or Fight for the Future make it easy to send a personalized email).

    Video of Internet Secret Planning Meeting (May 2011)

    I saw this video from Lauren Weinstein’s Blog this past June and meant to post a link to it.  It concerns PROTECT-IP and the numerous closed-door meetings that have been held by this administration that include only the content industry (MPAA, RIAA, etc.).  Even now, the House Judiciary Committee refuses to hear wider tech industry concerns about SOPA, the House’s much worse incarnation of the Senate’s PROTECT-IP bill.

    Enjoy the video — I’m certain you will!

    Internet Censorship Secret Planning Meeting
    (YouTube / 2 minutes)

    A Very Special Christmas for the Content Industry!!! ARGHHHHH!!!

    Yes indeedy… with the recent introduction of the House version of the Senate’s “PROTECT-IP” bill (Stop Online Privacy Act, or SOPA), they’ve managed to incorporate everything the MPAA & RIAA have ever dreamed of getting!  Of course, with all the money the content industry has donated to our representatives over the past many years, is it really that surprising?

    If you read my previous posts concerning PROTECT-IP, they referred to the bill introduced by our illustrious Senate several months ago.  However bad that bill was, this new one — introduced  just a couple weeks ago in the House of Representatives — is much worse.

    The House version of PROTECT-IP creates vague, sweeping new standards for secondary liability, drafted to ensure maximum litigation.  It treats all U.S. consumers as guilty until proven innocent.  If passed, the bill would give media companies unprecedented new powers to shape the structure and content of the Internet.

    The folks behind Fight For the Future have teamed up with Kirby Ferguson & put together a 4 minute video about the problems with PROTECT IP here.

    If you only read one article about PROTECT-IP, then this is the one at C/Net.

    For a list of articles by Mike Masnick @ Techdirt that provide excellent coverage of PROTECT-IP, go here.

    Next Wednesday, Nov 16th, is being declared “American Censorship Day” by numerous organizations to recognize Congressional hearings on the first American Internet censorship system.  Better watch out — given the current state of affairs in Congress, this bill can pass, and if it does the Internet and free speech will never be the same.

    Make your voice heard before it’s too late by contacting Congress.  It can be done with a minimum of effort at either  “Fight for the Future” or “Demand Progress.

    Be Prepared for PROTECT IP & DNS Censorship

    Just in case PROTECT IP passes, along with its planned Domain Name Services (DNS) filtering (a.k.a. censorship) of “alleged” infringing websites, prepare yourself by reviewing these guides published by ZeroPaid.  Over the past month, ZeroPaid has published eight guides for circumventing/defeating US DNS censorship.  Links to each of the guides is posted below.

    ZeroPaid Guides:  How to Circumvent and/or Defeat US DNS Censorship:

    1. Obtaining Server IPs via command prompt
    2. Using DNS Web Tools
    3. Using Your Hosts File
    4. Using MAFIAAFire
    5. Using Tor
    6. Using Foxy Proxy
    7. Changing Your DNS Server
    8. Using a VPN

    If you’re still not privy as to what the “PROTECT IP” act is about and how it will break the Internet as we know it today, see my previous posts on June 1, 2011 and June 6, 2011.  Both contain links to numerous reference information, articles and technical white papers.  If you haven’t contacted your lawmakers to urge killing this nasty piece of legislation, visit “Demand Progress” where you can send a personalized email to your representatives.

    Computer stuff: Security Now, Windows Secrets & Ask Bob Rankin…

    Security Now podcast:
    Leo Laporte of TWiT & Steve Gibson of Gibson Research Corporation (home of SpinRite) have started another “How the Internet Works” podcast at Security Now.  Scroll down to Episode 309 (14 Jul 11) to download the podcast or transcript.  Here’s direct links to the first two episodes:

    • Episode 309, How the Internet Works, Part 1  (mp3)  (pdf)
    • Episode 313, How The Internet Works: ICMP & UDP (mp3) (pdf)

    Steve and Leo Laporte did another “How the Internet Works” on Security Now over five years ago.  Scroll down to Episode 25 (02 Feb 2006) for the first episode in this series (mp3) (pdf).

    Windows Secrets Newsletter:
    This information-packed newsletter has been around for over 4 years.  For a small donation you can also enjoy the paid version which provides even more useful info.  Here’s a short sampling of some of their free articles:

    Ask Bob Rankin:

    The “Ask Bob Rankin” site provides a lot of useful information concerning PCs, peripherals  utility software, and much more.  Here’s a sampling of some of his articles:

    The last article (Microsoft System Sweeper) references a tool, currently in beta, called Microsoft Standalone System Sweeper.  It promises to help start an infected PC and perform an offline scan to help identify and remove rootkits and other advanced malware.

    Gotta’ go.  Oh… a friend was passing through Clarkston, WA & saw a bumper sticker with Obama’s picture and the text “Does this ass make by truck look big?”  Gave me a chuckle, plus I can think of LOTS of other pictures to use (including my own).  Latah’s

    Over-pressurized K-Cups may disable Keurig Coffee Brewers

    Keurig Elite Brewer (B40)We recently “broke” two Keurig Coffee Brewers (2 different models) last month at work.  Both were in operation for less than a week.  On both brewers, no water would pump out.  You could hear the pump briefly start, then immediately quit.  I searched the web for a clue as to what might be the problem and found nothing.  Bed, Bath & Beyond replaced both units.

    On the second return, the BB&B clerk mentioned that over-pressurized K-Cups might be a problem as we’re located near Colorado Springs, elevation 6500+ ft.  All K-Cups we’ve purchased here have extended tops & bottoms and are extremely tight.  The clerk said that because the top of the K-Cup gets pierced first, the over-pressurized K-cups may be causing coffee grounds to be forced back into the pump (causing its failure).  The solution she suggested is to press the K-Cup into the holder and pierce its bottom BEFORE lowering the lever/handle & subsequently piercing the top of the K-Cup last.

    The third Keurig brewer has now been functioning for nearly a month with no issues.  Frankly, I’m a bit skeptical with the clerk’s explanation of pump failure… but what the hey?  With two previous brewers both dying after only a day or two of use, the third one is now going strong.  Bottom line?  I’m certainly not going to pay the going price for something this ‘fragile.’

    Recent articles concerning Internet Freedom & Copyright

    Here’s a few articles over the past week that I thoroughly enjoyed & strongly recommend reading:

    • And finally, on Techdirt, two fun articles by Tim Cushing that highlight the killers of the music industry:

    Dat’s all!

    More about the PROTECT IP Act

    According to a group of experts, the Protect IP Act will literally “break the Internet.”  Both Ars Technica and Mike Masnick @ Techdirt have posted excellent articles that outline the problems with this legislation, especially with regard to it requiring DNS filtering to defend copyright.  Both articles reference a recently released report by DNS experts titled “Security and Other Technical Concerns Raised by the DNS Filtering Requirements in the PROTECT IP Bill.

    If you don’t know much about DNS, I strongly recommend you read this technical whitepaper.  As a minimum, at least take a look at the Ars Technica article that provides an overview & excerpts from the white paper.

    If my previous post didn’t pique your interest about this asinine piece of legislation (a.k.a. crap), then the above articles & white paper may do the trick.  As a minimum, if you read the white paper then you’ll at least gain some useful knowledge about how DNS works; DNS filtering; and even how easy it is to evade DNS filtering should the PROTECT IP Act be enacted.

    Since it appears as though the United States is about to join the ranks of other great “censorship” countries such as China, Iran, Burma & Republic of Azerbaijan (just to name a few), I find it fitting that the U.S. State Department funded a recent report which reviews censorship circumvention tools.  The report is titled Leaping Over the Firewall: A Review of Censorship Circumvention Tools and was directed at internet users in the above four countries, whose implementation of internet censorship poses a large & growing challenge to online freedom of expression.  Uh…  gee, uh…  it’s kinda looking like maybe “us” citizens of the US of A may need our own suite of censorship circumvention tools in the not so distant future, eh?

    Don’t forget… the above articles only discuss the DNS Filtering portion of the PROTECT IP Act.  This legislation also envisions implementing link criminalization and government mandated censorship of search engine results (e.g. targeting Google and others).  Lauren Weinstein posted an excellent article yesterday titled “Why Search Matters – and Fighting Internet Censorship with Technology.”  It’s not only an excellent read, but scary!

    All for now…

    Beware of PIPA!!! (Protect IP Act)

    I’ve been having trouble lately finding time to write, what with work; raising seven baby dairy goats (Oberhasli) in the house; an ailing 92 yr mother; and my son graduating from college.

    House Goaties

    Anywho’s… in case you didn’t notice, the Senate Judiciary Committee just passed the Protect IP Act (known as PIPA) last week.  Luckily, Senator Ron Wyden (Oregon) has placed a hold on the legislation just as he did on it’s predecessor, COICA (Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act).  Protect IP is the wayward son of COICA and will be even more damaging to the Internet as we know it.  Since I still don’t have enuf time to write my own opinion of this ridiculous piece of legislation, I’m going to point you to some excellent articles/essays on just how dangerous the Protect IP Act is.

    Larry Downes wrote the following two articles:

    Be sure to read the next to last section of the Forbes article titled “What are we fighting for?

    Lauren Weinstein has written extensively on both Protect IP & COICA.  Here are his latest articles/essays:

    Mother Board article:

    Business Insider article:

    And finally, I’ll close with a couple columns on TorrentFreak by Rick Falkvinge:

    If you have not yet emailed, called or written your representatives to oppose this nasty piece of legislation, then now is the time!


    Netflix Subscribers — Watch Out for Hollywood!

    I mentioned last December how Hollywood, in it’s infinite stupidity, was becoming upset with the success of Netflix’s streaming video service.  Looks like they’re notching up the pressure now, with Showtime and Starz both limiting and/or delaying content that they’ll make available to Netflix.

    Mike Masnick @ Techdirt has a great post that covers Hollywood’s “plan” to kill Netflix.  Be sure to read his reference articles from the LA Times & Variety.

    It never fails to amaze me how the content industry, as a whole, continues to cut its own throat — over…  and over…  and over again.  They rant & rave about how piracy is killing their business, yet all they do is eliminate — one by one — any and all legal means to obtain their content.  If they cannot fully control it, they fight it.

    If the only competition (legal or not) is P2P — then my “vote” is with P2P.

    P.S.  You might find interesting this other post from Techdirt a few weeks ago concerning Hollywood.

    Copyright History… nothing ever changes

    I finally finished reading Adrian Johns’ Piracy: The Intellectual Property Wars from Gutenberg to Gates last month.  It’s long — over 500 pages in length — but well worth the effort.  Rather than write a formal book review at this time, let me say that it can be briefly summed it up with the words “greed” and “monopolies.”  Mr. Johns coins the term “Intellectual Property Defense Industry,” which has emerged and developed over the past 40+ years to confront so-called piracy.  It is now a coherent, global, high-technology enterprise.  In addition, it now has the backing of the US Government (Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, or “Copyright Czar”) and Dept of Homeland Security’s ICE (Immigration & Custom Enforcement).  Mr. Johns states that we appear to be entering a “crisis” stage of copyright and that we’re ripe for a transformation.  He states in the last chapter:

    “We may therefore be about to experience a profound shift in the relation between creativity and commerce.  It will be the most radical revolution in intellectual property since the mid-eighteenth century.  It may even represent the end of intellectual property itself.”

    I certainly hope he’s right!

    If you’re not yet ready to tackle a 500+ page book on copyright, I strongly recommend you read Rick Falkvinge’s seven-part  series on “The History of Copyright.”  It’s short, entertaining, enlightening and has been declared as ‘reference material.’  Before reading the history, be sure to read the first link in which Rick defines what copyright is (and is not):

    Copyright is not a property right. It is a limitation of property rights. Copyright is a government-sanctioned private monopoly that limits what people may do with things they have legitimately bought.

    Here are the links:

    7-Part History of Copyright series (by Rick Falkvinge):

    And lastly, here’s a couple more excellent copyright articles by Rick Falkvinge:

    Dat’s all for now…

    Daylight Savings Time – this weekend – don’t forget these items!

    Daylight Savings Time begins this Sunday, March 13th at 2:00 am.  Two items I ALWAYS forget to set are my digital cameras and the electronic thermostat for my heating system.  In addition to those, I also forget to set the times in my “old” Davis weather station & indoor/outdoor digital thermometer which record Hi/Lo Temps & the time that they occurred.

    Personally, I wish they’d just pick one time standard or the other and leave it at that.  The only value I seem to get for ‘the changing of the times’ is that it forces me to remember how to set all the damn cheap digital watches our family has accrued over many years (and seldom wear, either).  Oh yeah… and did I mention setting the time on my car radios?  Aren’t they just a royal pain in the arse!

    Anywho’s… Happy “Daylight Savings Time” Weekend & enjoy losing an hour of sleep!

    * Don’t forget — set your clocks AHEAD by one hour.

    ** And yeah… the only reason I’m putting this in my blog is that I’m hoping — for the first time ever — I’ll  remember to set the time in my cameras & thermostat!

    Yesterday was “Public Domain Day 2011″…

    Unfortunately for us in the USA, not much (if anything) will be entering our Public Domain until 2019 (thanks to the 1998 Copyright Extension Act).

    From the “Center for the Study of the Public Domain:”

    On the first day of each year, Public Domain Day celebrates the moment when copyrights expire.  The films, photos, books and symphonies whose copyright term has finished become “free as the air to common use.”  The end of the copyright on these works means that they enter the public domain, completing the copyright bargain. Copyright gives creators — authors, musicians, filmmakers, photographers — exclusive rights over their works for a limited time.  The copyright encourages the creators to create and the publishers to distribute — that’s a very good thing. But when the copyright ends, the work enters the public domain — to join the plays of Shakespeare, the music of Mozart, the books of Dickens — the material of our collective culture.  That’s a good thing too!  It’s the second part of the copyright bargain; the limited period of exclusive rights ends and the work enters the realm of free culture. Prices fall, new editions come out, songs can be sung, symphonies performed, movies displayed. Even better, people can legally build on what came before.

    Yes… a day we used to look forward to, until the 1998 copyright term extension.  The Copyright Extension Act of 1998 increased the copyright term to life plus 70 years and 95 years for corporate authors — and was not only granted to future works.  It was retroactively applied to works that had already been created and enjoyed their full copyright term, and were set to enter the public domain.  None of these works will now enter the public domain until 2019.  The already diminished public domain has been frozen in time.

    (If you’re at all curious as to what “could” have been entering the Public Domain this year prior to the copyright extensions, take a look at this.)

    Thanks to the “Mickey Mouse Protection Act,” we get to wait another eight years before material once again begins entering our Public Domain.  Now… eight years may not seem too long, but wait!  Winnie the Pooh [1926] and The Mouse [1928] will be expiring in 2016 & 2018 respectively.  I imagine Disney is already preparing their assault on the US Congress for additional copyright extensions well before anything can happen to these two copyrights, most likely in 2015.

    Why is the Public Domain so important?  Read about it here.  You can read about our shrinking Public Domain here.

    I encourage you to visit “The Public Domain Manifesto” website to read and sign their manifesto, and also check out Mike Masnick’s post on Techdirt.