Since When Has Copyright Become Life Plus 343 Years?

from the perpetual-copyright dept

If you follow copyright issues at all, you know that the length of copyright has been extended time and time again, mostly at the behest of entertainment industry interests who are fearful of their content falling into the public domain (even if they used public domain material to create their own content in the first place). However, copyrights do eventually expire, but it seems like fewer and fewer people recognize that. Jim writes in to point out the unfortunate example an IP lawyer discovered recently upon visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Despite the fact that the museum normally allows photographs (as long as there's no flash), it would not allow them in a display of artwork by Nicholas Poussin, who died in 1665. When questioned why the "no photography" rule was in place, he was told that it was because of the "copyright" on the artwork. While this is obviously a minor slip-up by a museum guard, it does show that people are becoming accustomed to the idea that copyright lasts forever, which is a serious problem. The more people understand copyright, and why limits on copyright are important, the more likely we are to start to shift the system away from the ridiculous levels it's reached.

Filed Under: copyright, metropolitan museum of art, nicholas poussin

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  1. identicon
    L Janik, 14 Apr 2008 @ 5:43pm


    An artist can freely distribute his works. That is his right.

    An artist may choose to charge for his work. In many cases it is because being an artist is his only job and he needs money to buy burgers. That is his right.

    I don't understand how the music industry can be considered a monopoly. I am also not defending the music industry. My personal interest is in writing. The harsh reality is that very few people and businesses make any money selling fiction. If an artist does get money, I see no problem with getting royalties for the rest of his life and his heirs getting the benefits of that work.

    There are a lot of business models where a seller gets paid over and over again for a single effort. Apple gets paid over and over again for its operating system. Many industries license a process and continually get paid for use of this process. Landlords get paid over and over again for the use their apartments. This model must exist when there is a large up front effort or cost. However, in the case of artists, they may only have one commercially successful effort in their lifetime and this work must fund their entire career.

    It may be difficult to separate the "art industries" from the artists. I would be very curious to know what the average artist feels about the current copyright laws.

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