In April 2003, Creative Commons announced a new project called Founders' Copyright : the idea behind is to propose authors to have a limited monopoly (14 years) on their work instead of the 70 years after the author's death. The idea is to free up work after their period of profitability for the author and the editor. For my perspective, it's a good idea and show the commitment of the author for respecting the social contract between the society and him. Back to the origin of copyright/authors' rights , it was one1 of the purpose of having the right balance between the authors and the civil society. Going back to the project at Creative Commons in 2003, O'Reilly media was planning to release a lot of out-of-print books :
O’Reilly, the first Founders’ Copyright adopter, will release 157 out-of-print volumes under a Creative Commons attribution license and 394 in-print titles under a Founders’ Copyright arrangement, pending author approval. The Creative Commons website will list the books in question and announce their availability as their Founders’ Copyright terms lapse.
But it looks very difficult, looking at the O'Reilly Open Book web site we are far away from 157 books in early 2007. Some out-of-print are also cleared on the creative commons website meaning the author gave is permission but the book is not available on the Open Book web site (e.g. : Net Law: How Lawyers Use the Internet). Now I'm wondering where are the difficulties ?
There are some more difficulties to public domain a published or unpublished work. What are the major issues ? I would tend to say "asking the author(s)" and waiting for their official written answer. The rest is time consuming but not impossible to achieve. If you have more information, feel free to contact me (by the way I changed my email to the single character a followed by my domain name in Belgium).
1. Not only but also the editors were asking for it…