May 22, 2003
Proposed Title: “The Eldred Act”
“Copyright Term Deregulation Act”
“Public Domain Enhancement Act”
Purpose: To allow unused copyrighted works to enter the public domain after 50 years, while allowing copyright owners the full protection of the established copyright term.
Mechanism: Amends Title 17, United States Code.
Findings: Copyright law now grants copyright protection for published work created as early as 1923. Yet the vast majority of creative work created at that time is no longer commercially available. Estimates by the Congressional Research Service show that no more than 2% of the work created during the period of 1923-1942 is commercially exploited. Other estimates confirm that the vast majority of creative work created during the earliest period of copyright protection is no longer commercially available. While creators of the remaining works would likely agree to their public use and dissemination, it is economically infeasible to track them down to obtain their consent.