Some truth about copyright

Thomas Greene in The Register: Some truth about copyright

He writes:

Right, Eric -- assuming it can be printed for free and distributed for free and promoted for free, and further assuming that the retailer will be so grateful for this magical inventory that he'll be happy to earn only $1.00 per copy. Otherwise we're going to have to stretch that dollar something awful. When we start printing dollars on latex, do let me know.

Mr. Eldred isn't being hypothetical here. Consider Dover Thrift Editions.

Dover sells hundreds of public domain books for the price Greene describes as "magical". Well, they seem to be $1.50 these days; maybe magic is getting a little harder to come by? This is all made possible by the public domain. Granted, all these books are relatively popular. Unpopular public domain works can be made available online by dedicated people like Eric Eldred, Brewster Kahle and Michael Hart. Unpopular copyrighted works are simply abandoned.

Greene is right. Profit motive keeps Good-Bye to All That in print. If Eldred fails in the Supreme Court we will never get to test the theory that the public domain would as well, because neither it nor anything else will ever fall into the public domain again. Copyright is a creative engine, but once it has served its purpose (getting books like Good-Bye to All That published) why must it be continuously extended? The Eldred case is not anti-copyright, it is anti-extension. Greene does him a disservice with these straw-man arguments.