America’s original copyright statute provided 14 years worth of protection, renewable for 14 more years if the author was still alive. Current law gives individuals monopoly rights for the lifetime of the author plus 70 years. Corporate authors’ rights extend to 95 years after publication. But even that’s an undercount. Congress has retroactively extended copyright terms to prevent Mickey Mouse from losing copyright protection—preventing hundreds of other works from entering the public domain.
Khanna also makes an intriguing case that we shouldn’t consider strong intellectual property rights as a form of free-market capitalism but rather as a form of big government monopoly creation. Khanna, essentially, is proposing conservatives make a bold political gambit. Rather than moving “to the center” on issues that are in the public eye, Republicans could perhaps garner support from younger voters and the tech community by repositioning on a subject that’s currently the subject of bipartisan consensus. The memo doesn’t delve into this kind of cynical gamesmanship, but it’s hard not to notice that right now the Democratic Party raises a lot of money from both Hollywood and Silicon Valley, even though those two industries tend to line up on opposite sides of the copyright issue. Elevating the salience of copyright reform would be an excellent way for the GOP to wreak a little havoc with the Democrats’ financial model.
Great little read as I polish off leftovers. Let's get this right, America, and roll back copyright to the founders' intention.