The Null Device
Some cause for hope: the US Supreme Court to look at whether
copyright term extension was unconstitutional
. If, by some modern-day miracle, they decide that it was, copyright laws will be overturned, and Mickey Mouse and a lot of other post-1923 works will fall into the public domain, resulting in a collapse of the very foundations of modern capitalism (or so Disney Corp. would like to have you believe).
If, however, the status quo and the power of moneyed corporations (not to mention the wise counsel of George W. Bush) prevails,
countless films and other post-1923 media which it is not economical to restore will be lost, leaving a gap in the cultural record:
It costs several thousands of dollars to restore old movies from the 1920s and '30s that used lead nitrate, which destroys film.
As a result, "Any film after 1923 is not being restored," Bromberg said. "(These films) will be irrevocably lost."
It is quite possible that nothing will ever fall into the public domain again (in the US at least), and that the period between 1923 and the collapse of the copyright economy will be seen by future historians as a "dark age" of which little record exists.
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