So says mathematics (thanks, D)
[Rufus] Pollock’s work is based on the pr[e]mise that the optimal level of copyright drops as the costs of producing creative work go down. As it has grown simpler to print books, record music, and edit films using new digital tools, the production and reproduction costs for creative work in have dropped substantially, but actual copyright law has only increased.
The result? An optimal copyright term of 14 years, which is designed to encourage the best balance of incentive to create new work and social welfare that comes from having work enter the public domain (where it often inspires new creative acts).
Forever minus a day? Some theory and empirics of optimal copyright
This is exactly what Michael Hart and I have been arguing (him in papers, me on listservs) for years, but now with proof and a not-so-round number.
I saw that paper. I think the premise is a little suspect in that some stuff is more valuable than other stuff.
One of the dangers is losing forever material which may later turn out to be of historical value. Film is the best example. There are many films made by important people which have been lost. Occasionally they turn up. I saw some cartoons yesterday morning which were thought to be lost, but turned up and were almost not recognized. Many old films are literally melting in the vaults.