Voluntary Copyright Expiration

Voluntary Copyright Expiration

bart's picture

Many of us who are involved in the discussion about copyright would like to see copyright law in America as it was back in the early 1800s, shortly after the founding of the United States.  The shorthand for this is the "founder's copyright", and it's a counterpoint to the media cartels stretching copyright 70+ years out past the death of the original author so they can keep people paying for what is clearly our shared culture at this point (for instance, Winnie the Pooh, and the song Happy Birthday).

What I'd like to do is start putting out the idea of a voluntary copyright expiration.  That is, if you agree with some of the aspects of copyright law (at least, for the 'limited time' as defined in the United States Constitution) but feel that it's vastly overreached, I'd encourage you to specify on your own works that your work will become cc0 (essentially public domain, even in countries that don't recognize the existence of a public domain) after a reasonable amount of time.  And this isn't just for free and open source people or creative commons art.  If you're an indie game studio and you agree about the overreach of copyright law, there's nothing stopping you from placing a voluntary copyright expiration on your game's license (say 5 to 25 years down the line, long after you'd otherwise stop making money from it).

Would there be any interest in this?  If there's a positive reaction, I might consider adding something to the art submission form.  Fuirthermore, if any other people or organizations would like to work with me on pushing this idea out to more people, leave a comment here or catch me on IRC so we can get in touch.