Here’s what I believe on copyright

As I tend to oppose the more whacky fringe of anti-copyright partisans, I sometimes get mistaken for one of those rabid pro-MPAA loons. Nothing could be further from the truth, but I thought I’d state, once and for all, what I believe about copyright.

1. Copyright itself is a good for society. It gives artists a time-limited monopoly on their work, thus providing them with an income and an incentive to do more original work.

2. However, the present copyright terms have twisted that benefit largely away, to the point where it’s easy to make the mistake that copyright itself is a bane. Because copyright terms are now so long, for some artists it has removed the incentive to continue creating new work in favour of seeing work as a form of “pension plan”.

3. Hence, what we need to do is reduce copyright terms to a more reasonable level. My suggestion would be a straight 25 years, with copyright ending when you die. I see no reason why the children of content creators should make one penny from the work of their parents. It’s not like anyone else’s work carries on making money after their death.

So there you go. That’s my view on copyright in a nutshell. I have long essay that I’m working on at the moment, in which I think I’ll be able to demonstrate that the only people who would benefit from an end to copyright would be large corporations, but that’s for another day.

  • http://stefpause.com/ ManxStef

    I’d go for a slightly different tack, myself, using the 14 year term originally defined in the Statute of Anne along with a one-time extension of another 14 years. Indeed, 14 years seems to be the the optimal time according to Rufus Pollock’s research:

    http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070712-research-optimal-copyright-term-is-14-years.html

  • http://profile.typekey.com/ianbetteridge/ Ian Betteridge

    Extension clauses tend to benefit corporations (who have lawyers paid to remember when copyright clauses run out) rather than content creators – so I’m with Victor Hugo on that one. As for 14 years being enough, to borrow a post from someone on Ars Technica:

    “It would suck to write something like Harry Potter in your mid-twenties, then when you are 40 have a bunch of big corporations use your characters to make hundreds of millions of dollars while you have no control of how your characters are portrayed.”