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Now that copyrights can be just about a century long, the inability to know what is protected and what is not protected becomes a huge and obvious burden on the creative process. If the only way a library can offer an Internet exhibit about the New Deal is to hire a lawyer to clear the rights to every image and sound, then the copyright system is burdening creativity in a way that has never been seen before because there are no formalities.
While the creative works from the 16th century can still be accessed and used by others, the data in some software programs from the 1990s is already inaccessible. Once a company that produces a certain product goes out of business, it has no simple way to uncover how its product encoded data. The code is thus lost, and the software is inaccessible. Knowledge has been destroyed.