Per Declan McCullach in CNET:
- Duke University’s law school has received an anonymous $1 million gift to fund advocacy and research aimed at curtailing the recent expansion of copyright law.
The school, which plans to announce the gift at a conference in Washington on Thursday, is using the money to fund a center focused on finding “the correct balance” between intellectual property rights and material that should be in the public domain.
James Boyle, a Duke law professor and co-director of the school’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain, says that the center is likely to look skeptically at recent laws like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and a measure that extended copyright’s duration by another 20 years.
“This is an attempt to figure out the balance between intellectual property and the public domain,” Boyle said. “How much protection do we need?…If you want to have a rich culture and an innovative society, you have to leave a large amount of material freely available for all to use.”
By using the term public domain, Boyle is talking about creative works such as movies, books and music that are not covered by copyright law. A work enters the public domain when the creator voluntarily relinquishes copyright protection, or, as in Shakespeare’s writings, when the copyright term expires.
Boyle says he is not a copyright abolitionist. He agrees that some legal protection is necessary. But, he added, “the burden of proof should be on those who say we need to have property rights in this situation. Why will this work? Why is this necessary? We see the system getting out of control, out of balance. This is a way to restore the balance.”…