Happy Public Domain Day

Today’s the day in a lot of countries where works enter the public domain. In countries where copyright lasts life + 50 years (such as Canada), we’re up to people who died in 1963. Some names that pop out at me in the lists I’ve seen: Robert Frost, Sylvia Plath, C. S. Lewis, and Aldous Huxley. That’s the Narnia series as well as Brave New World.

Entering the public domain in the US this year: still nothing.

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Happy public domain day, what an amazing concept. Usually I am proud of my scandinavian heritage but this is unfortunately one of the points where we seem to have followed the majority of other countries: Life + 70 years :-(. Though it seems that here in Denmark the copyright was retroactively extended in 1995, hence we get previously public domains works back again:)

Perhaps someone can explain it to me, but I have a really hard time finding arguments for why copyright needs to be so long. Why can’t i simply be something like: 30 years or until death, whatever is longest? That should be sufficient to create plenty of incentive to create, which is the argument I have usually seen posed in favor of copyright. I can’t believe that any person rationally considers incentives stretching far past their own death, though I can understand the need to for a child or spouse to benefit if the artist was to pass away right after publication. Am I missing something obvious or have I fundamentally misunderstood copyright?

Because money.

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