Sunday, February 2, 2014

This article tells you why copyright law sucks: It takes our own history away from us.

During the greatest period of our national history, you could copyright something for a mere 14 years. Congress didn't expand that to 28 years until 1910.

The greatest period of national stagnation began occurring in the 1970s, when Congress extended copyright to 70 years. It's since been extended to about 120 years -- largely because The Walt Disney Corporation was going to lose copyright to Mickey Mouse.

Lengthy copyright protection does not help people profit from their work. It merely stifles innovation, and ensures that time, energy, and money is used up in lawsuits. By reducing copyright protection, people would be encouraged to innovate again instead of resting on their laurels.

Lengthy copyright protection also means that history is lost to those who most need to see it, hear it, touch it, and learn about it. If you wonder why people deface pictures of Martin Luther King, Jr. today, it's because they don't know squat about him. And they don't know, because they can't get access to history.

As Anacostia Museum director John Kinard once said: "Why do people shoot each other in the head, man? Because they don't have respect for human life. Because they don't have a respect for history that they can know and understand. They don't share a knowledge of history of America for themselves."

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