(The Return of) Ignatz, by Sam Heldman

Saturday, August 17, 2002

now I'm an expert on copyright? Brad DeLong, upon quoting Lessig and thinking about the issues raised in the upcoming Supreme Court case Elred v. Ashcroft, says "it's hard to think of a reason why [the term of copyright] should be more than 14 years." I've got one such reason, at least: it would make me very very sad (as a proud though disenfranchised resident of DC) to turn on the TV one day and find Fugazi's oldest songs being coopted by corporate America as the background to commercials. It's bad enough when Iggy Pop (I assume it was he, wasn't it) willingly licenses "Lust for Life" to a cruise line -- but that would be a step way too far.

To be (once again) less glib, I think that there is a substantial argument for a period of copyright longer than 14 years, if you think of the creators other than Disney -- the real creative humans who earn a living independently at art or music or writing or whatnot (rather than having signed away all their rights to a record company), and deserve (a) to have some say over what's done with their work during their lives at least; and (b) to earn a living from their back catalog. But I agree that the present creeping-towards-forever copyright trend is bad policy and probably unconstitutional (though the Supreme Court will say otherwise, I wager).

posted by sam 3:33 PM 0 comments


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