For the vast majority of history, there was no such thing as “copyright”. The notion of “intellectual property” is actually an extremely recent aberration, derived most directly from the so-called “Statute of Anne”
I’m not going to play the standard game used by copy”right” and patent apologists to bribe their way to ever-worse monopolies. It should be sufficient to admit that originally, the copy”right” terms permitted in the U.S. were far shorter, and were — from the beginning — riddled with holes.
Originally, copy”right” terms were a mere 7 years. Regrettably, a “renewal” was permitted for an additional 7 years. However, that still meant that content/inforamtion was to be monopolized for a MERE 14 years.
Observe the graph at the following link:
Quite frankly, each and every expansion of the length of what is euphemistically (and inaccurately) described as copyright “protection” only occurs because of “Orren Boyle”-style cronyism.
Quite frankly, I’ll be honest: I am intelligent and principled enough to admit that the “Founding Fathers’ were WRONG (about certain very specific things):
They were WRONG about “race”-based chattel slavery
They were also wrong to even permit the attenuated sort of “intellectual property” they did, in the first place.
Many others have already made this argument for me, so I’m not going to waste the time reiterating it.
Here are several extremely lucid presentations:
However, my argument is NOT about the fact that “intellectual property” is fundamentally indefensible. Nor is my argument about the fact that the mere existence of a “Public Domain’ necessarily – and fundamentally — differentiates it from REAL (IE: physical) forms of “property”. (Hint: your “ownership” of, for example, your bicycle, is NOT explicitly designed to expire. Nor is there any sort of explicit exception to your ability to exert control over who is permitted to ride your bicycle, if such use is intended for “Education” or “criticism”, or suchlike.)
No. My central argument in this post is an inquiry as to how the “Objectivist movement” would be different (and, most likely, much better), if copy”right” terms were slightly less irrational (say, for example, the mere 14 year maxiimum.)
For one thing, Ayn Rand would have had a much stronger “incentive” to actually complete the various “unfinished” projects, and also to refrain from ‘breach of contract” for projects for which she had already contracted. The Moral Basis of Individualism, Objectivism: a philosophy for living on Earth, and To Lorne Deiterling would (probably) all have been completed and published.
Rand would have understood that she could only continue “milking” any particular novel (no matter how popular) for a set number of years. This would have provided a (much needed) “incentive” to (for example):
- SAVE the “royalties” (or at least a portion thereof)
- COMPLETE MORE BOOKS/ARTICLES (since she would have been aware that her CURRENT monopoly privileges were “ricking down”, she/her agents would have been required to keep track of exactly how long she could continue milking “royalties” from any of her writings. This would have provided a definite “incentive” for her to actually complete projects for which she had already contracted — whether they happened to “interest” her, or not.
- “Her” ideas would have spread much more quickly, given the well-known tendency for “Public domain” (or otherwise freely-available) information to spread more quickly.
- Leonard Peikoff would not have been able to become the archtypal worthless “heir” HIS writings would (probably) have gotten done in a timely fashion. (IIRC, he initially contracted to have The Ominous parallels completed and published in time for the 1968 election. He failed to complete/publish it until 1982 – 14 years later.
Quite frankly, any honest/rational observer must admit that both Rand and Peikoff benefitted mightily from “the unearned” — the RIAA/MPAA’s relentless corporate lobbying and outright bribery has benefited them mightily.
Just a thought: perhaps they don’t really want a “separation of State and economics”, like they claim.