too many Copyrights?
Reinstituting formalities—notice of copyright claims
and registration requirements—could help address problems
related to too many copyrights that last for too many years.
VirtuALLy ALL OF the pho- tographs on flickr, videos on YouTube, and postings in the blogosphere, as well as routine business memos and email messages, are original
works of authorship that qualify for
copyright protection automatically by
operation of law, even though their authors really do not need copyright incentives to bring these works into being. Yet, copyrights in these works, like
those owned by best-selling authors,
will nonetheless last for 70 years after
the deaths of their authors in the U.S.
and EU (and 50 years post-mortem in
most other countries).
Are there too many copyrights in
the world, and if so, what should be
done to weed out unnecessary copyrights? Some copyright scholars and
practitioners who think there are too
many copyrights are exploring ways of
limiting the availability of copyright to
works that actually need the exclusive
rights that copyright law confers. 1, 3, 4
as an opt-In Mechanism
IllustratIon By alIcIa kuBIsta
One obvious way to eliminate unnecessary copyrights is to require authors
who care about copyright to register
their claims, put copyright notices on
copies of their works, and/or periodically renew copyrights after a period of
years instead of granting rights that attach automatically and last far beyond
the commercial life of the overwhelming majority of works.
Copyright lawyers speak of such re-
quirements as “formalities,” for they
make the enjoyment or exercise of
copyright depend on taking some steps
to signal that copyright protection is
important to their creators. 4