Six ways that Congress could fix copyright, now

Matthew Lasar in Ars Technica:

ScreenHunter_34 Mar. 02 23.29The battle over implementation of the Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement in Europe is heating up, while the war of words over the Stop Online Privacy Act is still in play. Rightsholders have called critics of these measures “demagogues” and “dirty tricksters,” but the critics show no sign of retreating from their opposition.

The fight against copyright maximalism has largely been negative. To offer something more positive, Public Knowledge (PK for short) has released an Internet Blueprint—six bills that the group says could “help make the internet a better place for everyone” and that “Congress could pass today.”

We're not expecting Congress to pass them today (or tomorrow), but they're at least an intriguing start point for debate. Here's a quick version each.

Shorten copyright terms

The current copyright protection time window is quite large: life of the creator plus a whopping 70 years (or 95 years total for corporate authorship). It's hard to believe that when the Republic was young, copyright lasted 14 years, renewable by another 14.

“Continually expanding the term of copyright comes at a cost,” the new Blueprint contends. “By giving an author a monopoly on an expression, it prevents other people from building on that expression to create new works.”

The Public Knowledge reform proposal isn't particularly radical, though—it would reduce most copyright terms to life of the author plus 50 years, or “a flat 50 years if the author was an employee.”

More here.