During Lessig’s time before the SCOTUS, justices were concerned that if they ruled against the Sonny Bono Copyright extention, they’d have to rule against the 1973 copyright extention. They were concerned about the chaos that would ensue. Since then people have been looking at that argument. Exactly how much chaos would their be? Lessig summarizes some of the findings:
Another way to put this: Jack Valenti’s crowd says exclusive rights are the only way to assure content get’s distributed. So we have a nice experiment: For the films between 1927-46, exclusive rights fails to make available 93.2% of the content produced. Does anyone really doubt the public domain wouldn’t do better?