Authors Alliance joins in letter against copyright term extensions in TPP

Posted July 9, 2014

Authors Alliance is joining 34 other organizations in telling the negotiators of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) not to extend copyright terms beyond the current international minimums. The international group signing the letter includes representatives of libraries, archives, educators, and authors; leaders such as the Association of Research Libraries, Creative Commons, Public Knowledge, the Canadian Library Association, and the Australian Library and Information Association.

The prevailing international standard already provides a copyright terms that last fifty years after an author’s death, a term that is more than adequate by any metric. Among the Authors Alliance proposals for copyright reform is “no more copyright term extensions.” As we explained there, further lengthening the copyright would not help most authors:

Term extensions do not promote the progress of science, as the Constitution directs, and often actively constrain it. Copyright terms are already very long . . . Only a very few works continue to provide economic benefit to authors for the full duration of our current terms. For the vast majority of new works, a longer term would provide no new reward at all, while it would instead starve the public domain and orphan our cultural and intellectual heritage. Without a demonstrated need or definite public benefit, we oppose any attempt to lengthen the copyright terms yet again.

Here in the United States, the copyright term has already been extended twenty years past the international standard. Our experience of longer terms has not been increased creativity or increased author wealth. The change has proven to benefit only the smallest handful of rights holders, while preventing works from entering the public domain. Documented experience as well as economic prediction weigh heavily against efforts to further lengthen the copyright term in other countries.

We encourage other organizations to join us and many others in telling the negotiators that current copyright terms are more than enough to protect authors like us by signing the letter here.

You can read the letter below. For more information on this effort and on how the TPP might change the copyright laws of many countries to the detriment of authors who write to be read, visit the Electronic Frontier Foundation.