Public Domain: A Metaphor

JunkyardLast night, I was involved in a discussion regarding copyright issues. Some of the concerns mentioned include shrinking fair use rights as well as devaluation of the public domain.

During the discussion of public domain, a metaphor occurred to me that I kind of like. I suggested that the public domain is becoming considered a creative junkyard, where we cast off stuff when it is no longer of value. That, of course, is not the purpose of the public domain. It would be good if we can turn this perception around, so that people can understand the value of having material in the public domain. Otherwise, where will Disney get the ideas to steal for their great movies?

This metaphor is © 2002 Chip Rosenthal. Reverse engineering and circumvention will be prosecuted to the maximum extent of the law.

(Photo courtesy Whistler Photo-File. Used by permission.)