Copyright Theft by Copyright Holders

Julian Sanches argues that the extension of copyrights out another 20 years – retroactively – is more of a theft by the holders of the copyright perpetrated against the public at large and modern day artists who could use this material creatively than a true protection from theft for the holders.

That retroactive extension, of course, did nothing to incentivize new creation. And since economists have estimated that the present value of a copyright monopoly was already barely distinguishable from the value of an unlimited term, it’s doubtful that even the prospective extension bought us much additional creativity. But it did mean that the general public would be denied, for another 20 years, the free use of works that had been slated to fall into the public domain under the original copyright bargain. That sounds more like “theft” of intellectual property—and not just theft from a particular creator or industry, but from the whole of the public.

Without the ability to utilize others work as a starting-off point we wouldn’t have gained one of America’s ONLY true original art forms: Hip Hop and Rap music. Along with Jazz, Hip Hip is uniquely American and truly important in the modern history of music.

Shakespeare was a notorious thief. The story of Hamlet had been written five times previous to when Shakespeare got his mitts on it. Does that make his version less wonderful? No. It is the opposite. It makes him that much more remarkable.

Picasso said, “Good artists borrow, great artists steal.”

And Newton stood upon the shoulders of giants.

Progress is always made faster when the greatest minds and most talented are allowed to take the best of what is around them, and amalgamate that into something new … something the future generations can steal and make their own.

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