May 18, 2006 · Lessig
So the British are considering extending the terms of copyrights for recordings from the current term of 50 years to 95 years — this to “harmonize” with the US, after the US extended its term to “harmonize” with Europe. Anyway, you know my views about term extensions for existing works, so I won’t repeat all that here.
But last night in the British Parliament, there was an extraordinary breakthrough in thinking about this issue. While the best rule would be that copyrights of existing works would never be extended, a second-best rule would be that, at a minimum, any extension should be limited to those copyright holders who take steps to claim that extension. And so has Mr. Don Foster now proposed.
This is the first such proposal that I’ve seen a government official make. (If I’m wrong about that, please let me know.) But it is fantastic progress in the second-best world we inhabit.