Because if an old song is still making money, one of the people it should be making money for should be the creator!
That still does not answer the question. The creator is still free to make money from a song even if it's in the public domain.
And then probably the aged songwriter has to go on public assistance that you and I pay for with our taxes!
They can't make money from the song they wrote 50 years ago so now they have to go on the dole? Wow you lot really do have an overblown sense of entitlement.
Do you think Pandora or Spotify charges you less for streaming a public domain song? Do you think they charge advertisers less? No, they just get a bigger cut for themselves.
And what's the problem with that?
I personally prefer that the artist continue to receive the income stream of his product rather than that stream being diverted to the bottom line of Disney Pictures or the fuel tank of Daniel Eks private jet.
How would short copyright terms divert money from artists to Disney? If you mean it's because Disney could use works that have fallen into the public domain without paying, keep in mind that every other artist could do the same thing. Disney can easily afford to pay licensing fees and royalties, whereas the struggling small time artist might not be able to. A richer public domain helps the little guys more than the big corporations.
You said it's impossible to get royalties less than 3 years after you write a song. My point is that it's possible to get paid for a song immediately after, or even before, writing it. The only reason you cannot make money until 3 years later is if you only use the collection societies.
So instead of focusing solely on time, why not bring back copyright renewals but with a use-in-commerce requirement (as with trademarks)?
I like the idea of steeply increasing registration fees. First, a work must be registered to be copyrighted. The first X year term (probably between 10 and 20) is free. The next is some significant fee - maybe $10,000 (to be inflation adjusted). Then every ten years the fee is multiplied by ten. If you want the 40 year extension, it's going to cost you a million dollars. Now there is no messy argument about whether something is used in commerce, and I would think nearly everything would pass into the public domain after ten years. Even if you cut my suggestion to a tenth, we would still see very few works copyrighted longer than 20 years.
If your job is to write books/make movies, and any jerk with an internet connection can download your work for free with absolutely no repercussions, I can imagine you'd be a bit wary of pouring a year and your soul into your next novel.
Even if that's what happened, I'm not sure it would be such a disaster if the people who were just creating stuff to make money found something else to do, and we were left with the ones creating because they love it.