by Mike Masnick
Fri, Nov 20th 2009 7:15am
Looks like the latest battle over copyright extension is about to take place in Japan, where the new prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, has vowed to extend certain copyrights. Specifically, he says that posthumous copyrights for compositions should last 70 years, rather than 50. This makes no sense, no matter what basis you judge copyright on. Copyright is supposed to serve a simple purpose: to encourage the creation of new works. It never makes sense to extend copyright on existing works, because those works were already created. In other words, the social "bargain" that was offered in terms of the limited times of protection available were clearly sufficient. But, it's making a pure mockery of the law to specifically single out posthumous copyright protection to be extended because, as far as I know, the dead no longer have any incentives to create new content, no matter how long the copyrights on their old content lasts. The only explanation for doing so is to create a special welfare program for songwriters and composers. But, if that's the case, let's make it clear this is a welfare system, rather than anything to do with copyright.
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