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    From: (Jms at B5)
 Subject: Re: attn. JMS: On Length of Copyright
    Date: 7/4/2003 3:28:00 PM  

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>My question is, should copyright extend past the death of the author,
>and if so for how long? If it were up to you? While I agree that the
>author should receive compensation for his works through his old age,
>is it part of society's obligation to provide for the author's heirs?
>If so, for how long?

Well, that's really the rub, isn't it? If copyright means ownership -- and
technically it does -- then it really shouldn't be any different from passing
along anything else one owns to one's family. It's a part of the estate, same
as the old rollaway desk and pictures of the family dog.

Society's obligation? Seems like we're again looking at the wrong end of the
microscope. The Bush administration is inche away from *totally* repealing
estate taxes, so you carry the burden of that lost revenue in what you as an
individual pay. (Sidelight: the Democrats said, at one point, "look, tell you
what, why don't we just exempt the first hundred million dollars from estate
taxes, but if you get over $100,000,000, you have to pay some taxes." The
Republicans dismissed it out of hand, not one person went for it. Kind of
tells you where their proirities are, doesn't it? This ain't about helping
poor farmers keep their farms. And whenever they've used that line, btw, it's
been shown afterward that not one farmer could be produced who lost his farm
due to estate taxes.)

Corporations earning billions of dollars incorporate overseas and pay zero and the rest of society are picking up the check on that one.
Personally, I'd be more concerned about that than the average novel, which
earns only a few thousand bucks a year. There aren't many Steinbecks among us
right now.

So yeah, I do think the period should extend beyond the author's life. Fifty
years is a goodly amount of time, but if it were to be peeled back a bit from
that, say to 20 or 30, I'd be okay with that.

One sidelight to this thing...most writers working at a certain level these
days incorporate, and all their works are owned/copyrighted by the corporation,
not the individual. So all Harlan's works are (c) the Kiliminjaro Corporation,
and mine are (c) Synthetic Worlds, Ltd. Which means that the works are
copyrighted for *the life of the corporation*, not my life.


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