Lessig did end up saying, "They cannot give a copyright purely for purposes of distribution to publishers." Jack Valenti argues:
"[Lessig] made it appear as if a picture goes into the public domain ... [as if it were] going into paradise with 72 vestal virgins escorting this film around ... If nobody owns the film, who's going to restore it? That costs $25,000 to $100,000. I don't think Mr. Eldred himself is going to spend that kind of money to restore a film that he doesn't own."
This argument doesn't make much sense to me. Movie copyrights now last for 95 years. Movies produce maybe 95% of their revenue in the first year after release. Is some studio going to stop distribution for 94 years, and then complain that a $25k restoration is not worth it because someone could copy it? Why did they wait 90 years if they really wanted to restore it?
Even assuming Valenti's facts, there are 100s of TV channels, and I would think that one might easily spend $25k just to show a movie once.