There's an interesting discussion over at Slashdot
about Project Gutenberg
being served threatened with a lawsuit over Gone With The Wind
. If you haven't been to Project Gutenberg
, it's really awesome. You can download lots of books that have expired into the public domain. Everything from Caesars Commentary on the Gaellic Wars
by William Shakespeare.
Well they are being threatened over Gone With The Wind by the estate of the dead author. Project Gutenberg Australia hosts the work, which is public domain in Australia, but the copyright was extended in America and that is why the estate is threatening a suit. Their suit is based around the fact that U.S. individuals can access the public domain Australian servers with the work on it.
It brings up an interesting discussion and you should go read some of the thought provoking comments over at Slashdot.
I personally don't think you can limit the distribution and restricting access to the servers to only individual IP's in Australia is easily defeated by using a proxy. As a capitalist I am on the side of the copyright holders on being able to benefit from the sales of works they created. I am seriously opposed to the restrictive copyright laws the U.S. has in place.
In 1998 the Bono Act was passed.
Before the act, copyrights lasted for the life of the author plus fifty years. After the act, copyrights lasted the life of the author, plus seventy years in the case of individual works, or seventy-five to ninety-five years in the case of works of corporate authorship and works first published before January 1, 1978. It also affected works still under copyright that were published prior to this date, increasing their term of protection by 20 years as well. This effectively 'froze' the advancement date of the public domain in the United States for works covered by the older fixed term copyright rules.
How can you enforce this on other countries though? It seems too overbearing to me. Human history has advanced by basing work off of former humans and to put a serious artificial limit on when you can "build upon" something of someone else's you are killing a lot of innovation.
Maybe I'm off my rocker. What do you think?