There are very good arguments, both for and against copyright. Our founders thought that such rights were vital to encourage innovation and creative exploration.
I personally am of the opinion that some sort of limited copyright is reasonable. A brief period of copyright probably is beneficial to society, though, I think I could be convinced otherwise.
One thing I am absolutely sure of,however, is that our current system of copyright is terrible. Years ago Disney Corp pushed through the “life of the creator and then 70 years” provision we now live under. Mickey Mouse was about to enter the public domain and Disney couldn’t have that.
Copyright, as it is constructed right now in the United States, does not encourage innovation, it stifles it. American copyright was recently called (accurately) by the wonks at the House Republican Study Committee a “symptom of the expansion in the size and scope of government.”
After the report was published, and the entertainment industry reportedly blew a fuse, the report was redacted. In less than 24 hours.
In an economy which is increasingly dynamic—one which is driven by the prosumer—bloggers, musicians, online novelists, new school movie makers, “life of the creator plus 70 years” is just a terrible idea—for most people. For Disney and Warner Brothers it’s a great gift from the government.
The copyright monopoly is not a natural right. It is a government-sanctioned private monopoly, granted under the assumption that no culture would get created if there’s not a profit motive behind it, and that this profit motive can only be realized in a monopolized setting.
Yet, when you question this assumption and this monopoly, some people react with unmitigated angry and fury – as though you have questioned their very right to life. This is puzzling, and it indicates a lack of understanding of what the monopoly is and why it exists.