Originally Posted by Ralph Sir Edward
After some discussions last night (on another thread with Ms. Zelda_Pinwheel), my pea brain came up with a different slant on how copyright should be organized. It's guaranteed to annoy everybody involved, so please save you brickbats until I'm finished.
So ladies, fish, and gentlemen, start your comments.....
Sorry Ralph, but I don't think this proposal will work, at least, not in the US. There are several reasons:
1. It's based on the assumption that the Copyright Office can be contacted and will have a record of who owns a copyright. But laws based on any sort of assumption just don't work. There can be no room for assumptions. Maybe if your law required the copyright holder to input and maintain their own copyright for it to be valid. It seems to me best if the record of copyrights are kept public through an on-line database, then you could avoid this. But if you leave it to the Government to input and maintain that database, the record will be out-of-date as soon as the interests deem it safe.
2. In the US it's a violation of Federal law for the Government to make a profit and has been since the 1940s. At that time some "lefty" Democrats wanted the Government to invest part of the Social Security Trust in stocks and bonds rather than entirely in the special US Government bonds--claiming the system of buying bonds taxes the people twice for the same thing: first when they pay the Soc Sec tax, then again when people retire and the Government has to pay off the principle and interest on those Government bonds. Wall Street didn't like the proposal and tied it to a Red Scare. Anyway, no plan involving profit by the US Government will fly: completely taboo.
3. When companies go bankrupt, the copyrights they hold may be the only thing of value left. Creditors won't like that part of your proposal at all and government is on thin ice trying to take control of this type of property. (The government can seize real estate because all you actually own when you buy land is a reversible free-hold to use it: all the nation's land belongs to the sovereign and governments can't divest themselves of sovereignty, but that only applies to the nation's land. The Government has no such power with other forms of property.)
You could use the copyright charges against the cost to maintain the database, tying maintenance charges against actual costs of hardware and bandwidth, and maybe the labor to manage it, but safer if the law put unclaimed copyrights in the public domain. That way you encourage copyright claimants to be sure the enterprise stays funded.
I like your spirit though!