I could actually see the average person who doesn't care a bit about oppressive copyright terms actually getting behind this.
Edit: I want to qualify here that I'm assuming such a renewal system would incorporate fee increases that would make it economically impossible for any copyright "owner" to practically extend their copyright infinitely. Increasing the fee exponentially would probably be too steep a slope, but it gives you an idea of what I'm thinking, at least. The original "founders copyright" in the United States-- 14 years w/ a single 14 year renewal-- is alright with me in a no-fee arrangement. Beyond that, though, renewals ought to get very pricey and should be short term.
Longer copyright terms definitely deprives the social good for copyright to exist in perpetuity, but if an "owner" is willing to pony-up very large sums for the public coffers to obtain short term renewals I'm alright with that.
Then require that the IP is effectively always for sale, so must be sold if anyone wants to buy it.
I'm on the fence about the "value" of the copyrighted work factoring-in to the equation. On first blush I tend to think the "cost" to the public of withholding rights from the public domain is high regardless of the "value" of the copyrighted work to its "owner". A "valueless" copyrighted work should be equally (and oppressively) expensive to withhold (for a long duration) from the public domain as a "high value" work. The point isn't the "value" of the copyrighted work, it's the term of "protection".
Why not? With enough public support, insane copyright terms can be reduced.
Most people really don't care and then out of the people who do care not all of them will agree with your position.
How about no?
In the U.S. copyright will never be "forever". The Constitution requires that the monopoly be granted only for a limited time in order to promote the progress of the Sciences and Useful Arts. Jack Valenti infamously suggested copyright terms of "forever minus one day" in light of this fact.
I wouldn't give up hope yet, though. Things change. Interpretation of the law by SCOTUS will eventually shift to more closely approximate the experience of people familiar with modern information technology.
Cornerstores of American law like the first-sale doctrine exist because judges in the pre-internet era could relate to and understand the inherent fairness in being able to resell an object that's in your possession. Law affecting the internet is horrible right now because many judges are technically illiterate, but that's gradually improving, and I'm sure as the internet continues to come of age and judges with experience and understanding of it take the bench, we'll start to see much more hopeful outcomes. We're already starting to see this a little bit, with cases like Nguyen v. Barnes & Noble and QVC v. Resultly.
Disney may seem like a invincible behemoth today, but they've been close to the brink before, and I'm sure they'll get there again. Nothing lasts forever.
Enforcing copyright more aggressively may be a good way to cause a sufficient ruckus to at least get the law revised. In the meantime, the internet affords the ability to deal semi-anonymously, and it may as well be used. This provides protection from suits under some of our insane copyright and network access laws (incorporation doesn't).
The most rational way would be to tax licensing revenue, but that makes it a non-solution to your problem because if nobody knows who to license the copyright from then nobody is licensing it and there is no revenue to tax.
It also seems rather unlikely that if you can't stop a completely irrational copyright term extension, you could nonetheless bring about a copyright tax on the same people. You're more likely to be able to prevent further copyright term extensions.
And there is a well known solution to the orphan works problem, which is to require copyright registration after some period (e.g. after every 14 years).
It doesn't have to be impossible, you just have to create a system where the copyright holder values it for you.
Imagine you decided to have a 1% copyright tax. To maintain your copyright you pay the government some amount of money. That amount will be extrapolated to determine the true value of the copyright. So if you pay 10 million then you get a 1 billion valuation.
Here's the catch. In order to incentivize copyright holders to value their IP accurately anyone is allowed to purchase full ownership of the copyright at the value of their valuation. The holder can of course counter a purchase by paying more tax and you prevent predatory buying by requiring the money up front.
There is also the political problem that you would be forcing artists to sell the rights to their art to the highest bidder, even if the highest bidder is their enemy, or a censor who would erase their public image by locking their work in a vault and never showing it to anyone.
If you're taxing revenue then what do you do in the case of person A who licences the copyright (for nothing) to person B who then makes a living from it. All those loopholes...
But it does seem that attaching revenue to a law makes it more likely to get passed. "Screw Disney, we can alleviate budget problems with this..."
I've been thinking about that, because I think that's where we're going: a fully opaque internet (by necessity) and widespread deployment of fully user-controlled computing resources (unlike now, with blobs and DRM coming out of everyone's asses).
This has been tried too (and much hilarity ensued):
If you have problems watching this video, here you find it on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2OyBuIPK4U
I quite like the control ot gived me over what parties I support monetarily: none by default.