Copyfraud is Stealing the Public Domain

This community has complained long and loudly about the very one-sided approach to copyright, and the not-so-slow erosion of the public domain. On top of the corporate lobbying to remove increasingly larger parts of the public domain, there is now an growing pattern whereby works are directly taken from the public domain and effectively stolen by a single company leveraging protections provided under copyright law. The Register’s article is based on a paper by Jason Mazzone at the Brooklyn Law School, which starkly details the problems that are now becoming evident as entities grab control over public domain works. The paper proposes some possible solutions, such as amending the Copyright Act. From the abstract: Copyright law itself creates strong incentives for copyfraud. The Copyright Act provides for no civil penalty for falsely claiming ownership of public domain materials. There is also no remedy under the Act for individuals who wrongly refrain from legal copying or who make payment for permission to copy something they are in fact entitled to use for free. While falsely claiming copyright is technically a criminal offense under the Act, prosecutions are extremely rare. These circumstances have produced fraud on an untold scale, with millions of works in the public domain deemed copyrighted, and countless dollars paid out every year in licensing fees to make copies that could be made for free — via Slashdot

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