April 16, 1994

U.S. Should Extend Copyright Terms


. . . Those arguing against copyright term extension are primarily businesses that depend on distributing films and videos that have lost copyright protection and entered the public domain.
There also is a case for term extension, which would be in the interest not only of the entertainment industry but of the country as a whole.
. . .
For example, Charlie Chaplin's classic movie, "The Kid," was released in 1921. . . . If our law remains unchanged, European distributors will be able to sell videotapes of "The Kid" and play some of America's greatest pop songs with absolutely no royalty payments to U.S. copyright owners.
By contrast, if Congress extends the U.S. copyright term, revenues for such uses will flow back to America for the next quarter century. Multiply this example many-fold, and its impact becomes apparent. . . .
Opponents claim that term extension is supported by a self-interested group of copyright owners. But the opponents themselves are a self-interested group; namely, those who distribute "public domain" properties without paying any royalties.
. . .
It's important to realize that copyright protects not just authors and songwriters, but those who hold copyrights on motion pictures, television programs, records, CDs, computer software, phonographs, periodicals, sculptures, designs, and other original work. According to Economists Incorporated of Washington, D.C., America's "copyright industries" in 1990 achieved foreign sales of at least $ 34 billion, and employed 2.8 million individuals.
The world today seems to be enchanted by American culture. As a result, America exports many more copyrighted goods and services than it imports; any diminution of copyright protection would therefore increase our trade deficit, while unfairly harming those who own copyrights.
For all these reasons, it seems clear that copyright term extension is in the broadest public interest.


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