Why don't ordinary people get it? Because few understand why the public domain is valuable. Why don't more see why the public domain is valuable? Because today the public domain is over 75 years old. It is ancient history for us, irrelevant to much of ordinary culture.
I don't believe that the public domain is irrelevant to ordinary culture. I think for people who do not think about this every day, the problem is conceptual and invisible. Simply making the problem explicit causes so many I speak with to immediately react in favor of the public domain, get the gravity of the problem. But given that each person needs a simple explanation of the concept in the first place, either in person or by consuming it via a talk or in writing, on a blog, over the 9,000 other things vying for their attention each day, it's going to take some steps to get a critical mass needed to make the problem visible, resulting in a movement that can do something to correct the problem. But much like the environmental movement, the public domain movement can, one step at a time, conquer the same barriers of conceptual understanding. 30 years ago, people didn't think about where their garbage went, or whether recycling was important. I hope it's only 10 years (or much less!!) until people think regularly about where human expression is owned and controlled and when it can be recycled appropriately. I think the issue is visability, verses relevance to our ordinary lives.Posted by Mary Hodder at June 17, 2003 09:22 AM | TrackBack