Please go sign the Petition to reclaim the Public Domain if you haven’t done so already. The man behind this is Eric Eldred, the “Eldred” in Eldred v. Ashcroft.
If you’re curious about what the public domain is or why it’s important, here’s an introduction.
Keep in mind that this is coming from a copyright holder. I retain copyright on the content of this website, for example, because parts of it may have commercial value. At times I have reworked entries from this blog and published them elsewhere. Quoting material from this site, linking to it, or even printing copies of it to retain for future reference falls under fair use and I don’t just allow it, I encourage it.
In 14 years, I doubt there’s going to be much use for the information here anymore. A historian may find it interesting. My main reason for protecting the copyright beyond that timeframe would probably be self-protection. Copyright would allow me to keep this content obscure.
Think about how many books, record albums, and movies originally published in 1989 are still in print. Some of them, like the movie Batman and Disintegration by The Cure remain very commercially viable. But the majority of media produced in that year is now out of print and difficult to find. There’s limited interest in it, but that interest may be so limited that even used record stores and used bookstores aren’t all that interested in carrying a lot of it.
That’s not to say it’s useless. It’s still valuable for research. It’s still valuable for other things too. You can make new media by combining old media. A budding artist can combine out-of-copyright audio and video to make new things and legally do things with it. For some examples, look at the World At War collection.
Access to public domain material today is difficult. But disk space is dirt cheap now. Bandwidth is getting cheaper. Access is going to become easier and easier. Admittedly, most of the material created from public domain sources is going to be at least as bad as, if not worse than, the source material. But there will be masterpieces as well. Disney got its start by using the public domain, after all.