I've just published a new feature-length article over on Medium "The Zombification of Intellectual Property and the Tool That Could Finally Reform It".
Here's an excerpt:
In the 2009 paper Forever Minus a Day? Calculating Optimal Copyright Term, its author Rufus Pollock of the University of Cambridge built a first-of-its-kind theoretically-and-empirically-grounded model, and concluded the optimal copyright term would be approximately 15 years with a 99% confidence interval extending up to 38 years at the most.
Existing copyright law protects new works for far, far too long. All such lengthy protections do is better enable corporations to extract rent. Why create something truly new when you can just milk something dry for two centuries due to enforced lack of competition? The sole purpose of copyright as a tool is to benefit the public at large through encouraging a larger pool of ideas. Enriching creators has only ever been the means of accomplishing that purpose, not the purpose itself. A rich public domain enriches us all. A small public domain costs us all. It is creatively impoverishing. Copyrights being as long as they are serve to actively restrict our total knowledge base.
We believe long copyrights help the little guy, but copyright extensions are not for the little guy. They were not the results of grassroots organizing by millions of poor artists. They were about those with money wanting more of it. The little guy just tends to go along with it, because of the promise of the potential of more economic security for themselves and for their families. If you’re earning royalties from a book you wrote, as long as you need money to live, you’re likely going to be for continuing that passive income until your death, and you’ll even support terms that exceed your death out of the same concern for your family and the generations who succeed you. Therein lies the problem, but therein also lies the solution…
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