The problem of excessive copyright term length is made vivid in a graph depicting a random sample of new editions of books on Amazon.com. Why are there more new books from the 1880s than the 1990s? The mystery of the disappearing books from the twentieth century is solved, and US attempts to dupe its trading partners exposed.
The shocking status of orphan works is narrated through the story of the iconic photo of workers lunching on a girder high above New York City in 1932. Almost all photographs taken from 1923 to 1964 are orphaned and in the public domain. Of course, this doesn't stop Getty Images from making millions licensing them.
A human subjects experiment and the recent decision in the "Blurred Lines" case reveal the problem with music copyright infringement—lack of deference to musicians and to long-established musical practices. Allowing musicians to take back their profession might be as easy as inserting a viral contract provision in common licenses.
Very few people know that US authors and composers have the absolute right to get their copyrights back in year 35 after publication. This chapter presents the first study of how authors use this right to the public's benefit. Disney's loss in South Africa to the heirs of the author of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" illustrates the power of reversion rights.
Copyright owners claim they need eternal copyright protection to prevent the destruction of their works by irresponsible users. A unique human subjects experiment shows that exposure to porn versions of a work actually enhances its value.
A comprehensive study of unauthorized uploads of versions of number-one US, French, and Brazilian songs shows how YouTube has become a platform that maximizes value to both rights holders and users. Famous songs are used to illustrate the way uploaders and rights holders communicate effectively without ever speaking.
A copyright symbol on the Declaration of Independence? On a 300-year-old Bach cantata? This chapter provides plenty of examples of how fraudulent claimants get away with claiming copyright in public domain works. It includes a provocative how-to guide for suing on fraudulent claims.
The UK government funded research on the value of public domain photos on Wikipedia, which required the reverse-engineering of the Google search algorithm. This research resulted in putting a dollar figure on the value added by the lack of copyright protection in photos of numerous famous authors and composers.
Joel Waldvogel and Glynn Lunney's work measuring the damage from illegal downloading of copyrighted songs produced surprising results. They found no evidence of a negative effect on the quantity or quality of songs being produced during periods of intense infringement. Waldvogel found a different story in India, however, where movie pirating did negatively affect the market for new works.
Kirtsaeng made thousands of dollars importing low-cost Wiley & Sons textbooks from Thailand to the US, where they cost much more. This chapter discusses when copyright owners should be able to stop legitimate copies of their works from crossing the US border. What's more important: allowing price discrimination by rights holders or encouraging the free flow of goods? Here, economic theory seems paralyzing.
Studying the relative appearance rates of public domain songs and copyrighted songs in movies reemphasizes the economic conclusion that the copyright term in the US is far too long.
In 2002, the Supreme Court decided that the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act adding 20 years of protection to existing copyrights was constitutional. For the first time, the full story of the case can be told and the reasons for the incoherent opinion finally revealed.