"- We now have to re-examine what constitutes 'Fair Use' in the Internet age and make certain that it is fair."
I have no gripe with this statement. I feel it is going to go downhill from here though.....
"- We need to have orphaned works put in the public domain."
OK, I am sort of with you here. Depending on the definition of orphaned works, naturally.
"They are works which are technically in copyright but year after year whose owners can't be found or they're deemed unknown."
Hmm. OK. Need to define "can't be found" and "deemed unknown". If the assorted Ass. es can allegedly trace infringers then it should be easy to trace virtually all holders.
"Putting orphaned works in the public domain is opposed by copyright holders on the grounds that these works constitute extra competition. Simply an outrageous concept, it's a form of communism by capitalists."
Not really true. They oppose it on the grounds that copyright is a right that shouldn't just be taken away because someone can't or can't be bothered to find out who holds the rights, and that it moves the onus from those who want to use material [they have no right over] instead to forcing rights holders to actively enforce their rights. Remember Google's apparent view that it is up to holders to find where Google are infringing and ask them to stop?
"- We need to re-examine what constitutes derivative works."
Why? It seems fairly straightforward to me.
"No work is truly original, it always has some prior art contained therein"
Yes and no. However, as you are advocating orphaned work and copyrigh terms then most of the prior art is, by your own argument, non copyrighted.
"--but under the terribly unfair Berne copyright convention (1886), copyright holders have total and absolute control over their works."
This seems fair to me. If you create something it is yours.
"Why does this unfair situation still exist--for authors are 'stealing' something from our existing culture and are not obliged to give one single iota back?"
(1) with orphaned works / copyright terms there is no stealing.
(2) If they gave nothing back there would be no value to the copyright and no need to obtain it.
"- We need to re-examine what constitutes a reasonable period for copyright to exist."
"(It is generally agreed that the vast majority of copyrighted works are spent in economic terms after 17 years or so and that it would make sense to reset copyright duration commensurate with this time. At least the 17-year figure would be a good point from which to start the re-evaluation.)"
17 years? You do have evidence for this? However look at the following:
Star Wars: active films 1977 - 2005 (28 years)
James Bond: films from 1960 - (50 years)
Harry Potter : 1997 - 2011 (14 years)
And so on. However, even accepting your 17 years is absurd why should someone lose their rights just after a certain amount of time? Can I have full and free access to your house after you have lived there for 17 years?
"- We need to re-examine what happens when a publisher refuses to republish a work, whether it's uneconomic to do so or for any other reason. Either these works should fall into the public domain or they must be published by the author, irrespective of how small the print-run is."
I disagree. If you own the rights to something that includes the rights to ref use to publish and refuse to allow anyone else to publish.