Normally, I don't comment on off topic conversations, but I think this is a fairly important topic, which most people seem to completely misunderstand. Modern Copyright and intellectual property laws have more to do with Mickey Mouse than ensuring the rights of dedicated and hardworking artists. Historically speaking, copyrights began in the 18th century and were developed to give authors and map makers productive rights to their works. In the US, copyrights were originally granted during the second constitutional convention and were provisionally given by the government for a period of 14 years with a renew of 14 more years only if the creator lived for the full term. Currently, the united states gives copyrights for 120 years to works for hire ( corporation held copyrights) made after 1978, which means that the copyright of a modern art work will outlast its creator by probably about 50 years.
As most people believe, copyrights supposedly protect a person's work so that they or their institutions may benefit from their labor. The underlying idea being that this gives these individuals a greater incentive to create and progress our societies overall understanding. Yet, we must be wary in this line of thinking, as it prioritizes the rights of the individual over any concerns from the community at large. In an effort to not make this a full blow essay, I will break this down in two particular ways. The first is an example and the second is an explanation.
Lets take our example. Between the 17th and 19th centuries, the music developed in Europe pushed the boundaries of form and function to such a degree that it still rivals music produced today in terms of beauty and grace. Musical visionaries, such as Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven, produced a body of work so immensely imaginative and intriguing that it is still being studied and preformed to this day. Yet, during this time, none of these composers had anything remotely resembling copyright over their work, and in fact, these composers were constantly reproducing and enhancing the work of their peers. In many ways, it was the openness of the music that allowed so many masters to create such grand works of art.
My second point is a simple discussion of capitalism. Most people assumes something that is untrue about capitalism. If one considers a single dollar ( or any single unit of currency ) as a vote, then for capitalism to resemble a democratic system all people would have to have the same life time income. That is, the overall income of every person in that system from their birth to their death would have to be roughly equivalent. This way, no one person would have more total votes than another on the whole, though in smaller more refined cases, one person might have more votes simply because the other person is saving his or her votes for something else. Modern international capitalism is more closely resembles and oligarchy, that is, the rule of a few over the majority. In 2007, the top 1% of the US population held 34.6% of the wealth and the next 19% held 50.5% ( data: http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html). This means that 80% of the US held only roughly 15% of the wealth of the nation. This data also takes into account the net value of assets like one's home. Without those assets, this bottom 80% holds only 7% of the financial wealth. This means that 80% of the US has only 7% of the votes in the US economy.