March 26, 2003 · Lessig
The Mexican Congress is about to consider a revision to its copyright law. Among it many changes, the law will extend the term of copyright from life-plus-70 to life-plus-100. (And no doubt thus beginning yet another cycle of “harmonization” around the world.) Worse, at the end of the copyright term, the government has the right to charge royalties for works in the “public domain.”
This is apparently something new for government regulators. Usually governments nationalize first, and then (and as a result) kill the industry nationalized. Mexico plans to innovate on this pattern: kill the public domain first, and then nationalize after.
The insanity in this system is astonishing. But here’s the message Mexico has got to understand: it will be easier for Mexicans to consume Hollywood content over the next 150 years than it will be for Mexicans to cultivate and preserve their own culture. Is promoting Hollywood really what the Mexican Congress is for?