About this time last year I wrote a post making fabulous (and ridiculously amusing) predictions about the state of publishing for the next fifty years. One of those predictions was a dramatic increase in the quality and variety of books available for free as a result of expired copyright.
Copyright law is one of those topics that I find it hard to stay away from when I hear it discussed. It’s often misunderstood, incorrectly interpreted, and / or taken for granted, but one part of the debate more likely to prompt me to get my trolling hat on than any other is expiry. Every now and again I’ll hear of creators and consumers complaining about the duration that copyright subsists after the death of the author, typically citing a certain American purveyor of theme parks and animated features as aggressively lobbying to get further extensions to protect their commercial interests (ie, their exclusive rights to use the Mouse and his friends). Those people are wrong.
And not “in my opinion they are wrong,” or “I can see where they’re coming from, but I personally don’t agree”. They’re just wrong. Continue reading