The Economist gets it right

The Supreme Court tried to steer a middle path between these claims [of the content and technology industries], and did a reasonable job. But the outcome of the case is nevertheless unsatisfactory. That’s not the court’s fault. It was struggling to apply a copyright law which has grown worse than anachronistic in the digital age. That’s something Congress needs to remedy.

In America, the length of copyright protection has increased enormously over the past century, from around 28 years to as much as 95 years. The same trend can be seen in other countries. In June Britain signalled that it may extend its copyright term from 50 years to around 90 years.

This makes no sense. Copyright was originally intended to encourage publication by granting publishers a temporary monopoly on works so they could earn a return on their investment. But the internet and new digital technologies have made the publication and distribution of works much easier and cheaper. Publishers should therefore need fewer, not more, property rights to protect their investment. Technology has tipped the balance in favour of the public domain.

A first, useful step would be a drastic reduction of copyright back to its original terms—14 years, renewable once. This should provide media firms plenty of chance to earn profits, and consumers plenty of opportunity to rip, mix, burn their back catalogues without breaking the law. The Supreme Court has somewhat reluctantly clipped the wings of copyright pirates; it is time for Congress to do the same to the copyright incumbents.

Couldn’t have put it better myself. Full text here.