The debate of the Copyright Term Extension Act is one that is heated and has both pros and cons. Society has both gains and losses by having long terms of copyrights and to be completely honest, I am on the fence a bit. I come from a Computer Science background originally and I have always been a contributor to the open source community. However, I see the value in long-term copyrights, but I also see the drawbacks.
By having X copyrighted for a long time, it can be argued that there will have to be a lot more creativity. Since you cannot mimic or remake X then people will have to be creative in creating new things. However, by having very long term contracts, you are encouraging offshore production or ‘knock offs’. The example that I read online was that another country made a great educational video for children using Mickey Mouse. However, this video would never be allowed to enter into America and therefore, it will be the American children who are suffering.
I think it is great when media enters into public domain, but I also think that the artists need to make their money. I think that a lifetime plus Y amount of years is a bit too long but there are always exceptions to the rule. However, as we have seen in Hollywood for the past decade, the only things that are being released are remakes and sequels! So if movies were to enter into public domain sooner, there would be less creativity then there already is. That alone would affect society in a negative way.
I know this subject can get more confusing especially in dealing with music. Some of the music from the Beatles should have been entering public domain soon but there has been an extension. To further that confusion, Michael Jackson owns most of the Beatles library but now that he has passed away, I think Sony owns them. To me, I don’t understand why John Lennon, Paul McCartney , George Harrison and Ringo Starr do not own the copyrights to their own music! Overall, I think a lean a bit towards long term copyrights but there has to be a limit. I am just unsure of what that limit would be.
After all this though comes the debate of Fair Use. What is Fair Use in the classroom and what is not? That being said, Canada and USA are much different in terms of Fair Use. It can all get very confusing but for a good laugh (and to learn a bit) watch this: