What changes to Copyright Law should be made?

Recently, I’ve been researching Scientology, and the different laws that it has used in various suits over the part few years. In the course of that research, I’ve learned quite a bit about copyright law and intellectual property, enough to make me consider a career in that field.

The laws that I am interested in discussing right now are the various extensions that have been made to copyrights. To some degree, I see why it is a positive thing for creators of content to be able to excercise control of their content for a certain length of time. However, I believe that the current laws are overreaching, and designed for corperations more than individuals. As important as it is for the creators of the content to profit from it, it is also important to have a large and varied public domain. So the question is, how long should the protections for various works be continued? Should different creations have different lengths of copyright? Should there be benifits conferred to those whom put their work in the public domain? How much control should be given over their work?

My personal opinion is that the control over their work should be about controlling the first sale, and unauthorized distribution. I disagree with banning things like reverse engineering, and stopping people from selling the things to other people, and other varieties of fair use. I think the protections should be in place for the lifetime of the creator, and not be transferable to an estate. I also believe that the ability of a corperation to own copyrights should be limited, and the individuals should be given more power. But how far this should go, I’m in the dark…

Comments? Questions? Flames? Nitpicks? Flirts?

Why shouldn’t copyrights (and patents) be transferable to an estate? They’re a form of profit-generating, and other forms of profit-generating are transferable–real estate, for one thing. Why single out intellectual property to not be transferable to the genius’ children?

Why shouldn’t Peggy Lee’s children benefit from Disney’s finally having to pay her royalties for the songs she wrote?

And I like to think that the grandchildren of the guy who invented the intermittent windshield wiper will benefit from his invention.

DDG: In essence, copyright law was never intended to be a cash cow in perpetuity, nor does it reflect any natural “intellectual property” (which does not exist in the same way that physical scarce property does). It is a government-granted monopoly that furthers the public domain by allowing authors to control the distribution of their works.

What you’re describing isn’t even profit, as there’s no risk involved: it’s simply rent. Government imposed rent-seeking is another term for “corporate welfare”, and hurts both the adaptation of works and the incorporation of works into popular culture. Copyright certainly isn’t a license for an indefinite monopoly. IMO, the time period is too long already.

My opinion is similar to that of Demosthenesian… Also, it becomes difficult to track down the relevent heirs for fair use. In many cases, the author is consciously or subconsciously drawing on a form of public domain already, and thus should make their own contributions. The heirs should not be able to dictate how art is used.

The Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act should be repealed. Life plus 70 years (or 95 years for a corporate creation) is just too long for copyright to persist. The purpose of copyright is supposed to be “to promote science and the useful arts.” I think artists were being rewarded plenty already; extending that reward on existing works doesn’t provide incentive to create more.

As a result of the Bono Act, no works will fall into the public domain until, I believe, 2019. Never before in our history has this happened. It should be stopped.