"Most states have laws governing what is to be done with
property that has been abandoned. In one state the amount of time
before something is considered abandoned ranges from a mere 2 years
up to 15 years. After that maximum -- depending on the type of
property -- the property can be put up for auction, absorbed by the
holder of the property, or possibly revert to the state, again
depending on the property in question. The laws vary between
states, but the principle is there. Property that is not claimed
after a reasonable amount of time ceases to belong to the
"Think of how this might apply to intellectual property.
Copyright law allows an inordinate amount of time before works
revert to the public domain -- author's life plus 70 years, and 95
years on corporate copyright. But, what if the owner of this
property had to make sure it was kept available in order to keep
the copyright? Any work that has been out of print for more than 15
years probably isn't going to earn its owner anything more anyway.
What if these works automatically reverted to the public domain?
Couldn't this be a compromise between the entertainment industry
and the public? Either the work must be kept available for purchase
or else it is available for free, but it is always available."
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