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Friday, January 12, 2018

Copyright Law Expiring Should Help OER

Public-domain documents are often important sources for open educational resource (OER) providers. Educators could soon have more public-domain documents from which to choose.

The Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, passed in 1998 in honor of the late entertainer and congressman, extended copyright protection of future works to 70 years after the creator’s death (previously 50 years) and added 20 years to the copyright of works already in existence. The law expires at the end of the year and there appears to be little momentum to extend it any further.

“We are not aware of any such efforts, and it’s not something we are pursuing,” a spokesperson for the Recording Industry Association of America said.

Historians have criticized the copyright protections because they prevented preservation of some works that are nearly 100 years old. In addition, the Internet has led advocacy groups and companies such as Google to organize public opinion against open-access limits.

“I haven’t seen any evidence that Big Content companies plan to push for another term extension,” said Daniel Nazer, attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “This is an election year, so if they wanted to get a big ticket like that through Congress, you would expect to see them laying the groundwork with lobbying and op-eds.”

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