Copyleft, the Disguised Copyright: Why Legislative Reform is Superior to Copyleft Licenses
University of Missouri Kansas City Law Review, Vol. 78, p. 749, 2010
36 Pages Posted: 7 Oct 2010 Last revised: 14 May 2014
Date Written: October 6, 2010
Throughout history copyright laws have steadily grown stronger to a point where creators automatically gain many exclusive rights in their new works. Although creators can contractually license these rights, they cannot relinquish them. Originally, computer programmers began licensing their software under open source licenses, which promoted the free use and distribution of their software to advance the greater good. Today, artists in many disciplines are using “copyleft” licenses, which are based on the open source licenses, to license their works to the public at large. These copyleft licenses, however, are merely copyright licenses in disguise, and they create many problems. To meet the goals of the copyleft movement, this comment recommends amendments to the Copyright Act that, although minor in a technical sense, will have a revolutionary effect on artistic communities in America. The amendments give creators the ability to relinquish one, or more, of their rights upon registration, after a fix time period, or after specified triggering events. Further, the relinquishment is irrevocable so future users of the work can use the work without fearing litigation. These amendments would allow creators, for the first time, to decide the best means of promoting the progress of useful arts.
Keywords: Intellectual Property, Copyright, Copyleft, Open Source, Computer Code, Legislation, Creative Commons, Free Software Foundation, General Public License
JEL Classification: K10, K19, K20, K29, K30, K39, L86
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation