Last week we asked our readers if video games should go into the public domain after a certain period of time. The results were almost split right down the middle between two schools of thought: that games should enter the public domain after a fixed amount of time and that an IP can only be renewed if it is going to be made available to the public.
Around 494 votes were cast, with 47 percent of those votes going to the idea that IP owners should only be able to renew their rights if they make the product available in some fashion to the public and that they don't sit on the IP. Around 43 percent of the votes went to the idea that, after a fixed amount of time, IPs should be entered into the public domain. Around three percent said that copyrights should never expire, and eight percent said that the IP holder should have the option to renew the copyright indefinitely.
Interestingly enough, our first option in the poll, putting the copyright in the public domain after a fixed amount of time, is close to how copyright laws used to work. That's why Disney was able to make Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Sleeping Beauty, and all those Peter Pan movies. It's why BBC can make a Sherlock Holmes show alongside CBS' Elementary. But all of the biggest IPs of our generation will never be shared with the public, and thus will die on the vine because they will be held in perpetuity by relatives of relatives of the original author or be purchased by corporations who will never ever have to let them expire…
Thanks to everyone who voted in last week's poll. For a more in-depth discussion, check out the latest episode of Super Podcast Action Committee.
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