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Archived updates for Thursday, September 23, 2004

Reform(aliz)ing Copyright?

According to a September 20, 2004 article in Wired, many works that are out of print and considered no longer commercially viable are still locked up under copyright. For digital archivists, locating these copyright owners is a formidable challenge because Congress no longer requires that owners register or renew their copyrights with the U.S. Copyright Office.

"Formalities -- especially registration and renewal -- have historically been a part of the copyright law since the beginning," said Jason Schultz, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "The registration and renewal served the purpose of a balance in copyright law and it's a balance that's required by the constitution."

The Center for Internet and Society says that even for those works that were copyrighted, more than 85% fell out of copyright after their initial term. Click here to learn more about the CIS's Kahle v. Ashcroft lawsuit asking for a declaratory judgment that copyright restrictions on works whose copyright has not expired, but which are no longer available, violate the constitution.

Click here for "Reform(aliz)ing Copyright," by Chris Sprigman, which analyzes the broader issues raised by the demise of mandatory copyright formalities.

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