Nor will any other big company, which seems to me to be a compelling argument that copyright should die with the creator. If the law firm my Grandfather worked for doesn’t have to pay me every time they open one of his files, why should J.K. Rowling’s grandchildren keep getting cheques for the nextÂ century?
Normal folks spend their whole life working, and getting paid. When you retire, you should get some sort of pension, but once you die, the cheques stop coming. Game over, thank you very much, goodbye.
However, if you write any old bit of a book, or music or whatever, not only can your children continue to live off it for years after you have died, but they can even sell those rights to someone you never knew. In fact, as we’ve seen with, for example, the Beatles music, even while people are still alive, the right to collect royalties off their work can be sold off to someone didn’t write a single note on any of their tracks. Whole industries, and thousands of lawyers make a good, but not nescessarily worthwhile, living off processing income from the work of authors, musicians and artists who are dead.
I know people argue that writers and artists have a right to provide for their families, but that really doesn’t wash. Everyone tries to save a few bob to leave something for the kids, so whiy should artists be any different? Equally people point out that creative people are often horrible and mean, so their families deserve to live off the royalities for the duration of copyright, or, indeed, as long as the estate can find some way to control the use of their work.Â But you know what, sometimes regular people are a pain to live with, and that doesn’t buy their brats to right to mooch off their work for 70 years after they die.
The more I think about it, the more it seems to me that there is no reason why an individual intellectual property right should not die with the creator of the work.Â Patents on drugs expire after time, which is why we can have cheap generic drugs, and now the idea of patenting business processes is going to be reviewed by the courts, and hopefully will the knocked on the head. When intellectual property laws were first introduced, they were intended to support struggling writers in an age when the economy was 95% agricultural, and literacy was the privilege of the wekk-off.Â The idea of IP was never to allow your grandchildren or some shareholders to sit on an eternally growing pile of moolah, and now that everyone can write and self-publish, it’s time we took a more democratic view of intellectual property.
BTW, I like the title of this post, it’s mine, creative commons attribution non-commerical licensed like most other stuff I do.Â I put thought into it, so cite it properly!