Today U.S. representatives Zoe Lofgren and John Doolittle introduced the Public Domain Enhancement Act to Congress. The legislation would require copyright owners to pay a very small fee (say, $1) upon a copyright’s 50th “birthday” in order for the copyright to continue. Copyrighted works for which the fee isn’t paid will pass into the public domain, thus freeing works which have been abandoned by the owners of their copyrights. Sounds like a good idea to me. You can read the text of the bill itself here. Also relevant is the Reclaim the Public Domain petition, which outlines some very good reasons to support this bit of friendly legislation.