The copyright protections for more than 50,000 works of literature, music and film expired on Jan. 1. Alas, sometimes the ravages of time ignore U.S. copyright law.
Because of legislation enacted in 1998 that effectively placed a 20-year moratorium on copyright expirations, 2019 marked the first time in two decades that protected works came into the public domain. Unfortunately, for some compositions, “public availability” is no more than a legal fiction, as the last copies of some works were lost long before their copyright protections expired. If the video game industry isn’t careful, many of its classic games — especially the ones that are only legal to play on rapidly aging hardware — could suffer a similar fate.
Read the full piece here at The Washington Post.