Victor Keegan of The Guardian asks an important question for today's market of near-disposable IP: how long should we allow copyright to endure? When business models increasingly revolve around immediate monetization, does it make sense to hold copyright for 50 to 70 years after the creator dies?
It is curious that there is so much pressure to extend copyright in an internet age defined by the willingness to share knowledge freely, ranging from Wikipedia to the genome project. The reason? Producer lobbies are far more powerful than difficult-to-organise consumer ones.
I'm somewhat biased in this - after all, my understanding of IP came of age under the tutelage of Larry Lessig in law school - but I believe the desire to extend copyright interminably bodes ill for both consumers and creators of intellectual property. That is, provided we actually policed it, which we fortunately don't (or don't strictly) [PDF].
As Keegan points out, and which I've noted before, we don't really have a "respect for IP" problem that goads us into extending copyright. It's just that our producers are still tweaking business models for a digital age that recognize the ease of copying and capitalize on this, rather than fear or shun it:… Read more