Ridiculous: Why Is Any Country Supporting Locking In Life + 70 Copyright Term Protection?

from the pure-insanity dept

One of the key issues raised by the head of the US Copyright Office, Maria Pallante, was that it was time to perhaps rethink our current copyright term of life plus 70 and lower it. There had even been some indications that even the maximalists at the MPAA and RIAA were actually (for the first time) open to the idea in her proposal to officially roll back the term to life plus 50 with the ability to "renew" for that last 20 years. When even the maximalists are making noises about reducing copyright terms, and Congress seems open to exploring the issue, you'd think that the folks over at the USTR wouldn't be out there trying to lock us into international agreements that require life plus 70 as a minimum. But you'd be wrong.

The folks over at KEI are putting together a letter to TPP delegates as they go through the latest negotiation, asking them to reject the life plus 70 requirement, noting that many countries that have it today (including the US) have shown indications that they regret such a long copyright term:
There is no benefit to society of extending copyright beyond the 50 years mandated by the WTO. While some TPP countries, like the USA, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Singapore or Australia, already have life + 70 (or longer) copyright terms, there is growing recognition that such terms were a mistake, and should be shortened, or modified by requiring formalities for the extended periods.

The primary harm from the life + 70 copyright term is the loss of access to countless books, newspapers, pamphlets, photographs, films, sound recordings and other works that are “owned” but largely not commercialized, forgotten, and lost. The extended terms are also costly to consumers and performers, while benefiting persons and corporate owners that had nothing to do with the creation of the work.

Life+70 is a mistake, and it will be an embarrassment to enshrine this mistake into the largest regional trade agreement ever negotiated.
Unfortunately, it looks like the only one who had been really fighting back against this proposal was Canada, and the indications are that Canadian negotiators are about to fold and agree to the life plus 70 requirement. There's a very important question here, which apparently no one in the USTR is willing to answer: why are they doing this? It makes no sense. All of the evidence suggests that having copyright this long has been bad for just about everyone, except perhaps Disney. The USTR has never even bothered to look at the issue, rather just accepting the idea that if the US currently has life + 70, it must lock that in permanently around the globe. Because.

It's pure insanity in which the USTR continues to push for proposals that hurt American jobs, innovation and the public alike.

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  1. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 9 Dec 2013 @ 4:26am

    Re: Corporate rights

    All solid points, though to be even more accurate I'd suggest calling them 'Corporate Privileges', not 'Rights'.

    'Rights' implies they are for some reason owed such control, that it is their 'right' to have it, and that it would be inherently wrong to take the control the law gives them away from them, whereas 'privilege' describes it as it's supposed to be, a temporary revocation of the public's rights, in order to better serve and enrich the public through the increased creation of more works.

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