Like in many other countries in the world, the French government and lobbies have no respect for free stuff. One of the most obvious examples is their war against piracy (not real-life-ARRGHH piracy, but movies-and-games-torrent-downloading piracy), which may have some logical points (which I don’t agree with, but that’s a different issue).
In France, one of the latest brilliant ideas of the Adami, a French copyright collective, is that there shouldn’t be a public domain. Or at least, not a free one.
The current idea of the public domain is that, after a specific time (which, today, is a really long and indecent time), a work (book, song, movie,…) becomes available for everybody to get, use, modify,… for free. The existence of the public domain has always been a way for the public to gain access to more knowledge, as well as for the creation of new work to thrive.
But the Adami has another idea: creating a public domain that you pay for. It would be managed by yet another copyright collective (which doesn’t make any sense since the public domain means the absence of copyright), and this collective would then remunerate the authors, or their descendants, when their work would be used. And this, for ever. And I guess that at some point, it would become too difficult to find actual descendants, and where would the money go? You’re right, probably to the copyright collective itself. I’m not saying that these people are greedy bastards, but the whole idea feels wrong. The copyright is already too long, there is no need to prolong it indefinitely.