Our fine, entertainment conglomerates wrestle over public domain material.
In October, Warner Bros. very quietly filed a trademark registration on "The Great and Powerful Oz." ...
On Wednesday, an examiner at the United States Trademark Office suspended Warners' trademark attempt because Disney had come first. ...
Although Baum's book and accompanying illustrations are in the public domain, judges at the 8th Circuit last year decided to give Warner Bros. "character protection" under its copyright on the 1939 film starring Judy Garland. In the case, which concerned a company that attempted to sell film nostalgia merchandise, the appellate circuit ruled that it would be hard to visualize these characters without watching the movie ...
And so on and so forth.
When the Constitution was written, copyrights lasted a bit more than a quarter of a century. Now they go on for almost a hundred years.
Why, you ask? Because big companies have managed to bribe and strong-arm congress to making the copyright laws longer... and longer ... and longer still.
Why creative works should be owned by corporations in the first place escapes me. But congress voted that it could be so back at the dawn of the twentieth century, and here we are. A shame that copyrights can be owned by entities other than humans, since last time I checked, companies don't breathe, or urinate, or expire of old age.
It's also sad that copyrights can outlive authors (although Samuel Clemens wanted copyrights to be eternal. Of course, he didn't have Viacom and News Corp. in mind when he advocated eternity.)
Let us face it: Mickey Mouse will fall into the public domain around the time the sun reaches its red star phase.