Copyright laws are generally over 100 years from the creation of a work. For example, a book written in 2020 will not be part of the public domain until after the year 2120.
But if extending copyright so long is good, why is it that we allow it to expire at all?
In fact, why not “re-copyright” old works and take them out of the public domain? This will supply the financial incentive to preserve these works so that they will be preserved for future generations.
- Copyright will no longer expire ever.
- All currently-existing creative works will be auctioned off, internationally, to the highest bidder.
So if you ever wanted to own the exclusive rights to publish The Canterbury Tales, Dante’s Inferno, the plays of Shakespeare, or any classic mythology, now’s your chance! Previously, you did not have the freedom to exclusively own a work of history and culture, but now you do!
(You could also buy the copyright and then just sit on it, preventing anyone else from enjoying the work you now own, if you were so inclined.)
The money raised from this auction could be divvied up by the countries with the most copyright enforcement and/or largest militaries. Or it could be split “equitably” by GDP or population.
For example, if Dante’s Inferno raised a total of 10 million dollars for the copyright, then the money could be divided by total population as follows:
- Italy (0.8% of world population) –> $80,000
- Indonesia (3.5% of world population): $350,000
- Monaco (0.00051% of world population): $51
- (And more to other countries)
Fig. 1: The new “infinite copyright” term (black, at right) is even longer than the previous terms. The bars indicate how long a copyright would last for a work created at a specific year under American copyright law.
Of course, this copyright extension would also include visual art and sculptures (e.g. the Mona Lisa, the Easter Island Moai, ancient cave paintings), historical music (e.g. Beethoven, Bach), and even architecture (the Eiffel Tower, the Great Pyramids of Giza, etc.).
So if you wanted to play “Ode To Joy” on a piano, you’d need to buy an official licensed set of sheet music and performance rights from whoever the top bidder was.
It would, naturally, be illegal to take a picture of a famous building or sculpture without paying a licensing fee. This is already partially implemented in today’s laws: for example, if you want to film a scene of a movie with the Chicago “Reflective Giant Bean” sculpture in the background, you may have to cough up hundreds or thousands of dollars (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_Gate).
Don’t let copyright expire, and don’t let it only apply to current works! It needs to be retroactively applied to all historical cultural artifacts and works of art.
PROS: Provide a financial incentive for the copyright holders to continue preserving and updating the works in question, thus ensuring their continuation for future generations. Keeps lowlifes and degenerates from cheapening art or music by appreciating it without paying for it.