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February 23, 2007

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dan

You have to balance the rights of a culture to its treasures with the right of an artist to create wealth for his or her beneficiaries. That argument by Sonny Bono was disingenuous, in that his children would have profited from his recordings as the law originally stood (life+56 years). Still I don't think it can be used to argue absolutely against copyright law that extends beyond death, again as far as the law originally stood.

Just as a creator of a business or real estate property has the right to pass that on to his or her children, the creator of a copyrightable work should be able to pass on ownership (and benefit) of the work to their children, or whosoever they choose. It's not only families but society at large that benefits from this: Dorothy Parker left her estate in the care of the NAACP.

The problem is when copyright is put into perpetual extension, which is what's happening now. Businesses and real estate must be invested in, steered and maintained by their successive owners, if they will continue to be of use to society. Copyright requires next to nothing on the part of the owner to maintain, and the longer the copyright is extended, the greater the damage to a culture that cannot rediscover and reintegrate its treasures on a regular basis. So the rights of the successive owners diminish over time, as I see it.

I should add this only applies to whole use: the production of a play, printing of a book, or reprinting of a painting. Credited use of pieces of an existing work to create a wholly new work (such as DM's Gray Album) is fair game in my opinion, although not in the Supreme Court's.

isaac

dan,

couldn't agree more. AlthoughI would add that life + 56 years is still a ridiculous amount of time. Howabout life +20? or life + 12? Originally in this country, it was just 12, so that's still a lot better from an ownership society perspective.

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