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Jason Mazzone of Brooklyn Law School (Legal Studies Paper No. 40) has extensively analysed the prevalence and impact of false copyright claims, also known as "copyfraud":
Copyfraud is everywhere. False copyright notices appear on modern reprints of Shakespeare's plays, Beethoven's piano scores, greeting card versions of Monet's Water Lilies, and even the U.S. Constitution. Archives claim blanket copyright in everything in their collections. Vendors of microfilmed versions of historical newspapers assert copyright ownership. These false copyright claims, which are often accompanied by threatened litigation for reproducing a work without the owner's permission, result in users seeking licenses and paying fees to reproduce works that are free for everyone to use.
Copyright law itself creates strong incentives for copyfraud. … There is also no remedy for individuals who wrongly refrain from legal copying or who make payment for permission to copy something they are in fact entitled to use for free. While falsely claiming copyright is technically a criminal offense under the US Act, prosecutions are extremely rare. These circumstances have produced fraud on an untold scale, with millions of works in the public domain deemed copyrighted, and countless dollars paid out every year in licensing fees to make copies that could be made for free. Copyfraud stifles valid forms of reproduction and undermines free speech.
Parliament should amend the Copyright Act to ala criminal offense in Canada. Perpetrators of copyfraud should be heavily fined and their exislow private parties to bring civil action for false copyright claims. Copyfraud should be ting intellectual property should be transferred into the public domain. In addition, Parliament should further protect the public domain by creating a national registry listing public domain works and a symbol to designate those works. On the principle that those who profit from the copyright system should pay for its regulation, owners of intellectual property should pay a property tax of, say, 12% of gross sales into a fund that would be used to police and prosecute copyfraud offenders.