Monday, April 09, 2007

William Patry on the term length of copyright in the U.S.

K.M. Dames did an interview with William Patry. Patry now serves as senior copyright counsel for Google. Prior to working for Google, Patry was professor, copyright counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives, policy advisor to the Register of Copyrights, and an attorney in private practice. Dames is posting portions of the interview in his blog, CopyCense. Most of the interview will also be published in the June issue of Searcher magazine. Below is a quote from Patry, which resonated with me, on the current term length for copyright:
From a policy standpoint, I think the duration of copyright is way too long. Whether “life plus 50 [years]” was correct or not I think can only be answered by taking into account what we got internationally. There was never an argument that “life plus 50” was required to give adequate incentive; “life plus 50” had been the standard in the Berne Convention for some period of time, and the idea of shifting to that in the [Copyright Act of 1976] was … because it benefited us overseas. If I had the ability to write the copyright laws myself, I would probably make the term life of the author and that’s it. I think the [current] term is way too long from a policy standpoint.

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