Let’s Cut the Copyright Down to Five Years
Alexander Wolfe is out with an article over at Information Week suggesting that one way to get back at the RIAA and other organizations that are trying to mercilessly beat on you all day long for doing simple things like, say, ripping your legitimately purchased CDs, is to take away their copyright priviliges.
More specifically, he suggests that copyright protection ought to be cut back from 75 years (and in some cases 125 years) for corporate authorship to 5 years.
“How about we cut the copyright terms down to five years. Retroactively. So now “Stairway to Heaven” is in the public domain. Hey, the ongoing RIAA lawsuit problem is gone in one fell swoop.
Do I hear some objections in the courtroom, like if we cut down copyright protections, artists lose out? This would be a legitimate complaint if artists really benefited currently from copyright. But they mostly don’t. It’s generally the large corporations who extract the maximum benefit from their rights, and then trickle a little of it down to songwriters and authors. (Even a little blogger such as myself doesn’t own the rights to his own words; my employer does. Yeah, I know: “But they give you a job and they pay you.” Whatever.)”
I think Wolfe is on to something here. I like this idea. Particularly as more and more art becomes remixing and reassembling works of collage and mixed media, I think that this sort of a new copyright would better allow new and broader types of art to flourish.
I’d love to see more and more of the backlash to things like the RIAA morph into bigger initiatives to cut back the number of years that copyright provides.
How would I feel about my own work, as a content creator, falling into the public doman 5 years after I publish it? I’d love it! I’d especially enjoy watching the way people reused and remixed my public domain content resulting in more attention and marketibility for my work that was still within the 5 year protection window.
I think that a movement like this would better democratize the arts in the United States, allowing fresh new talent to continually bubble to the top.
I don’t think a movement like this would hurt most artists at all. The only ones likely to be hurt by this would be the large super successful artists (who you could hardly now argue *need* copyright protection in order to survive as an artist) and the large media conglomerates that are really more in the business of fleecing artists than really looking out for their best interests.