Copyright and the next couple of centuries

As I understand it, copyright on something can only extend to about 90 years beyond the life of the writer. Is this correct? So this would mean that in the next 100-200 years, pretty much every piece of literature, music, television program and film we know will be out of copyright and in the public domain.

Right now it’s a fairly big question in music as to whether a new band is ripping off an old band and there are royalty battles in the courts. But then if we assume that it’s hard to write new stuff, you could presumably get a situation where, if you could claim someone ripped off an old Beatles tune (obviously then perfectly legal), you could copy whatever song they had written and they would have no ability to sue you? Correct?

Alternatively, if copyright can (and will) be extended indefinitely, thanks to a company like Northern Songs or Apple Corps would we eventually see a total stagnation in the arts. One could argue that no one really need bother to scream copyright theft, and it’s true that there are probably a fair few cases that could be won if someone really tried, but would that allow someone who was sued to use the defence that there were so many other similar matters out there uncontested that the case should be thrown out?

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3 Responses to Copyright and the next couple of centuries

  1. Anonymous says:

    Just to follow up. Someone on another forum pointed me toward this piece of information:


    It’s a great little speech. Well not very little – quite long and involved and enlightening.


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