The U.S. Supreme Court today upheld the constitutionalilty of the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act. Copyright protection in the U.S. originally covered creative works for a ‘limited time’ of 14 years, striking a balance between the need for financial incentive to create original works and the need for a rich public domain. Congress has since extended copyright lengths a number of times; the current copyright term lasts for 95 years.
It’s not unlikely that copyright duration will be extended again as lucrative works threaten to fall into the public domain. Copyrighted works that do not merit republication will simply languish and disappear. Readers, don’t expect a new book from Dover anytime soon. Music fans, hang on to your rare 7” EPs; the world will probably never see them again. Not legitimately, at least.