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
    Reverend Joe, 15 Apr 2008 @ 1:50pm

    Re: Re: Plagarism is not against the law


    Though this is an aside to the already-aside discussion of copyright terms we seem to have gotten on here, I'm interested in this point, because you obviously have a lot more knowledge of economic theory than me.

    My question for you is basically, if capitalism is defined like this (pulled from a random google definition):

    Capitalism: an economic and social system in which individuals can maximize profits because they own the means of production.

    What about copyright IS NOT capitalistic? Personally, I think I'd agree with you that its both not EFFICIENT (at least the way we in the US do it) capitalism, and also not in the spirit of "free markets" (ironic, considering so many maximalists claim to be "free marketers"), but I'm not sure I see how, with this definition, it can be considered ANTI-capitalistic.

    Either way, I'd be the first to say that just because something IS NOT anti-capitalistic, that in no way implies that it's a Good Thing (at least not measured by the metric: "resulting in the best results for the greatest number").

    Is there a deeper definition of "capitalism" in economic theory? Or are you assuming that "not efficient capitalism" is tantamount to "anti-capitalism"? In any case, I'd be very interested to hear your thoughts.


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