The library is burning in slow motion

Cory Doctorow gave a keynote at ToorCon about DRM. During the Q&A, an audience member asked him to give additional comments on the infinite copyright situation. Cory's answer focused not on the effects on the general public, but on the effects on artists.

It's bad news because for most of us, 45 years after our work is created, a hundred years after our work is created ... figuring out who you need to talk to before you can re-use that work -- before you can bring it back, archive it, or put it back in the stream of commerce, make a new work from it -- is almost impossible, and certainly costs more than you'll ever hope to earn from those works. As a result, the works languish. You might have a piece that would be interesting to use in your new transformative work, but figuring out who you need to pay, let alone paying them, costs more than you'll ever be able to earn back from it.

What that means is that the library is burning in slow motion. All that film ... is turning to slime and we can't bring it back. [As long the early Mickey Mouse shorts] remain in copyright, all those other works disappear. It's a kind of radical denuding of the marketplace.

There are a lot of bad things you can do to artists: you can plagiarize us, you can rip us off, you can leave us to die in penury, you can write nasty things about our books on Amazon. But of all the things that you can do to artists that horrify artists, I think that the one for which we reserve a special creeping horror is the spectacle of the mountain of books on fire. It's being removed from the public eye ... it's being forgotten by history.

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