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Hawley Introduces Bill to Reduce the Copyright Term

See Reason‘s article Josh Hawley Targets Disney With Copyright Legislation:

Hawley’s bill, the Copyright Clause Restoration Act of 2022, would shorten the period of time that a creative work can be copyrighted. Currently, any creation is protected for its creator’s entire life plus 70 years; works created prior to 1978 are protected for 95 years. Hawley’s bill would shorten that period to 28 years, with the option to renew at the end of that term for a limit of 56 years total. While this would be a significant decrease, it is no radical shift: The exact same terms were in place from 1909 up until 1976. Plus, shortening the terms brings the law closer to the actual stated constitutional purpose of copyrights—encouraging innovation rather than simply protecting stakeholders’ financial interests.

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Of course this would almost certaintly violate the Berne Convention, which requires every signatory state to have a copyright term of at least life of the author plus 50 years; see summary; art 7. Such a legislative change might violate other treaties that the US foisted on the rest of the world too; it’s complicated. See “The Mountain of IP Legislation”; posts on IP Imperialism. To have freedom to liberalize US copyright law, we should exit the Berne Convention and any other relevant treaty, as I suggested here: “How to Improve Patent, Copyright, and Trademark Law.”1

Anyway, this has zero chance of passing, but it’s an interesting proposal and actually would, for once, be an improvement on existing copyright law, which seems to always get worse.

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  1. See also Improve the Copyright System by Adding Patent-like Maintenance Fees; Longer copyright terms, stiffer copyright penalties coming, thanks to TPP and ACTA…; Tom Bell on copyright reform; the Hayekian knowledge problem and copyright terms; Public Knowledge’s tepid proposals for copyright “reform”. []
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To the extent possible under law, Stephan Kinsella has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to C4SIF. This work is published from: United States. In the event the CC0 license is unenforceable a  Creative Commons License Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License is hereby granted.