RT Cunningham

Copyright Nonsense – A Subversion of the United States Constitution

I recently started rereading a book I bought sometime in the mid to late 1980s. The first time I took a break from it, I thought about the ridiculous copyright laws of the United States.

The book, “Earth Abides“, was first published in 1949. The author, George R. Stewart, died in 1980 at the age of 85. The book is still covered under United States copyright laws.

The Copyright Clause of the United States Constitution

When I say “subversion”, I mean it. The clause reads:

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

George R. Stewart renewed the copyright on “Earth Abides” in 1976. Because of that, an up-to-date chart shows me it won’t enter the public domain until 2044, when I’m 84 (if I’m still living).

I’m not an attorney but the term, “limited times to authors”, doesn’t seem to refer to the estates of said authors. Common sense dictates a copyright shouldn’t live longer than the author who generated it.

I have to agree the very first copyright act of 1970 was insufficient. The term was 14 years from the date of registration and an author could easily outlive it. An author could easily outlive the 28 years provided by the act of 1909.

Things didn’t go off the rails until the act of 1976. It took “limited times” to an extreme. If the Internet and social media platforms were available to the average citizen back then, I seriously doubt the law would have passed. Without that law in place, the laws that extended it wouldn’t exist either.

Copyright Nonsense

The copyright extensions are more about greed than anything else. It originally provided for a sort of livelihood for a short time. Today, it’s a forever livelihood. Not only for the author, but for the author’s descendants.

If the wording was something to the effect of author or company lifetime, I don’t think the copyright issue would even exist. Mickey Mouse would still be protected as long as the Disney corporation continued to exist.


February 11, 2018
United States

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