How Long Should Copyright Be?

The term of copyright is too long.  Its length is acting against the intent of copyright law, which is to ensure the greatest growth of the public commons.  Long copyright terms delay the benefit that society expects in return for the protection it grants.

Naturally, opinions on copyright form a spectrum from total abolition to perpetual existence, with many shades and hues within.  I’ve already mentioned Nina Paley and how she inspired me with how she handled Sita Sings the Blues.  She had to deal with the effects of over-long copyright, and she licensed her work Creative Commons so it wouldn’t cause the same harm.

Lawrence Lessig is the founder of Creative Commons, a licensing regime that allows creators to modify their copyright, giving them more leeway in how they release their work.  Mr. Lessig is a lawyer and you’ll find he has a way with words.-)  Karl Fogel’s proposed reforms are a little more stern.

Having created copyrighted work, I’m naturally inclined to feel that it belongs to me, and should for my lifetime.  I can even see the logic in extending copyright for a few years for the sake of family.  I can also see the logic of a shorter, limited term, say ten years with an option to renew for another ten.  I’m in favor of copyright and the protection it gives me, and I agree with its intent to grow the public domain.  Copyright with a reasonable term is a good way to do both.  The current long terms are not reasonable.


About arjaybe

Jim has fought forest fires and controlled traffic in the air and on the sea. Now he writes stories.
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