Creative Commons USA

Michael Carroll to Congress: “Copyrights have to expire.”

Elliot Harmon, July 17th, 2014

This week, Creative Commons US lead and CC board member Michael Carroll addressed the US House of Representatives Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet. In his address, he emphasized that the success of Creative Commons tools doesn’t eliminate the need for copyright reform; it underscores it. He also laid out the case for why Congress should not extend copyright terms again.

Congress, copyrights have to expire. The constitution says so.

Congress’ power to grant the exclusive right to authors in their writings is for a limited time. That limited time currently lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years. From an economic perspective, to promote the progress of science means to provide a sufficient incentive for both the creator and the investors in the creative process to make a fair return on that investment. Life plus 70 is far longer than necessary to achieve that goal.

Professor Carroll’s testimony begins at 1:30:

Professor Carroll asked Congress to consider a move to the way copyright law in the US functioned prior to the Copyright Act of 1976, which went into effect in 1978. The pre-1978 system offered creators an initial term of 28 years and an option to opt in to a second 28-year term. You can read Professor Carroll’s written testimony on the Creative Commons US blog.

Correction: This post previously referred to the Copyright Act of 1976 as the Copyright Act of 1978. The Act passed in 1976 and went into effect on January 1, 1978.

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