@Algot @BobTarte That's true for the traditional publishing model of big runs on release that are rarely repeated, but with Print on Demand and ebooks becoming an ever larger part of how books are published I could envisage a significant minority of backlists becoming available for a very long time.
Perhaps that's a partial solution: have copyright extinguished if a book has been out of print for a certain time. That way it's either available from the right's holder or it's legal for anyone to make it available.
I would expect no print versions would be needed. DRM issues aside, making an ePUB version available on line would be enough to satisfy the "use it" clause, as I see it. Utilities like Pandoc and Calibre handle conversions to other formats effectively for anyone technically comfortable. I would bet some forward-thinking publisher could offer even the poorest rights owners the service of hosting the files with search facility.
However, that all presupposes internet access: both for any meaningful access to Calibre and for making the output available, or for accessing an enterprising publisher. So, I'd still want to see some protection for small creators against losing rights because they didn't have internet access.
Copyright is supposed to serve a public good. According the US Constitution, Congress shall have power "to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."
If you draw upon our culture to create a work, it's only fair that your work eventually entire the public domain and further enrich our culture.
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