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. icon
    Mike (profile), 16 Apr 2008 @ 1:05am

    Re: Re: Re: Plagarism is not against the law

    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.

    Good question... and I'll give a two part response. The first is that to some extent I've been using a shorthand of "capitalism = free market" or, more accurately "capitalism = lack of gov't interference in the market."

    But, more to the point, I don't think that definition actually contradicts the definition you brought up:

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

    The key element in owning the means of production is the lack of gov't interference in those means of production -- hence the free market mentality.

    As for how copyright fits, with that, I absolutely disagree that copyright is about owning the means of production, because it does not. Nothing in copyright is about owning the *means* of production (which would be one's brain, from whence the content comes...). Copyright, instead, is giving one individual or company a monopoly on any *output*. So it's regulating the output, and does nothing to free up the means of production. In fact, it *limits* the means of production of others, by saying they can't use an available and unconstrained resource for their own efforts.

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