You might remember the controversial Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, which in 1998 retroactively extended copyrights that were set to expire (to life of the author plus 70 years) before they had a chance to enter the public domain. By extending the copyright of works that were about to enter the public domain, Congress in effect signalled a policy of granting copyrights in perpetuity.
Now, the EU is doing the same. Ars reports that the EU is set to retroactively expand the terms of musical copyrights for an additional 45 years, in order to appease aging rockers who did not save for retirement. Let’s hope that this trend doesn’t continue. Copyrights should expire at some point. Do artists really need to ensure that their great-grandchildren will be collecting royalties 70 years after they die? Is that likely to incentivize more creativity than such nearly-perpetual copyrights stifle?