Let me get this straight right up front: I think the public domain is critically important to human advancement, I think the net is its most important representative on this plane and I think copyright is out of control. I also think that Creative Commons is a fascinating and practical new approach to networked copyright (Danny explained it here and mirrored a useful flash presentation).
But… then let me go on to say that I dislike orthodoxy of every kind and that, in the clamour to roll back or abolish copyright law and in the profusion of alternatives, I see an emerging orthodoxy – the public domain is in crisis, creativity and innovation in peril, copyright owners returning us to the dark ages. The story neatly collapses together lots of hot geek issues – like open source, unbundling Microsoft and Web Services – and it pulls together lots of clever and useful minds – like Kahle, Lessig, Barlow and about half a million bloggers – but it’s not an open-and-shut case.
Where, for instance, is the actual damage caused by extended copyright protection for books? Who is actually suffering under the silly provisions of the DMCA and won’t the whole thing be thrown out bit by bit by various courts? Are the record labels hurting anyone with their suicidal mis-application of resources in file sharing?
I blogged the public domain in more detail in June here.