April 16, 1994
U.S. Should Extend Copyright Terms
BY DAVID NIMMER
. . . Those arguing against copyright term extension are primarily businesses
that depend on distributing films and videos that have lost copyright protection
and entered the public domain.
There also is a case for term extension, which would be in the interest not
only of the entertainment industry but of the country as a whole.
. . .
For example, Charlie Chaplin's classic movie, "The Kid," was released
in 1921. . . . If our law remains unchanged, European distributors will be
able to sell videotapes of "The Kid" and play some of America's greatest
pop songs with absolutely no royalty payments to U.S. copyright owners.
By contrast, if Congress extends the U.S. copyright term, revenues for such
uses will flow back to America for the next quarter century. Multiply this
example many-fold, and its impact becomes apparent. . . .
Opponents claim that term extension is supported by a self-interested group
of copyright owners. But the opponents themselves are a self-interested group;
namely, those who distribute "public domain" properties without paying
. . .
It's important to realize that copyright protects not just authors and songwriters,
but those who hold copyrights on motion pictures, television programs, records,
CDs, computer software, phonographs, periodicals, sculptures, designs, and
other original work. According to Economists Incorporated of Washington, D.C.,
America's "copyright industries" in 1990 achieved foreign sales of
at least $ 34 billion, and employed 2.8 million individuals.
The world today seems to be enchanted by American culture. As a result, America
exports many more copyrighted goods and services than it imports; any diminution
of copyright protection would therefore increase our trade deficit, while unfairly
harming those who own copyrights.
For all these reasons, it seems clear that copyright term extension is in the
broadest public interest.
For more information or your ideas about Copyright Extension email: firstname.lastname@example.org