Public Domain in the Digital Age: a Paradox.

Leonhard Dobusch, Peter Baldwin

Summary
Because digital content is leased not sold, therefore not owned outright, in the way that other forms of property are, in fact there is no obvious mechanism by which the public domain can be enforced.

A fireside chat with Peter Baldwin and Leonhard Dobusch.
Stage 8
Conversation
English
Conference

Because digital content is leased not sold, therefore not owned outright, in the way that other forms of property are, in fact there is no obvious mechanism by which the public domain can be enforced.  Will the publishers really give up their digital files, which have never left their servers for 150 years, when the public domain finally kicks in?  Will they even still have them? Thus there is possibly no legally enforceable public domain for digital content.

The absence of the Public Domain in the future is connected to the influence of AI already, and that too is part of the leaching away of Wikipedia's content, first by Google and now increasingly by ChatGPT and its ilk.

On the other hand, a millennium from now, the vast bulk of the world’s content will be public domain.  The copyrighted part will be a tiny fringe of the most recently created content. Cultural producers will have a vast mass of public domain content to use for their own purposes.  What will be the point of copyright in this future cultural landscape – so different from our own, where the public domain is just a fraction of content?  Why bother locking anything up, and therefore will not the public domain be everything?

 

 

Leonhard Dobusch (Foto: Ingo Pertramer, CC BY 4.0)
Professor für Organisation | Blogger
Peter Baldwin
Co-Founder of the Arcadia Fund