Re: Duration of copyright
Tom: If copyright expires in 14 years, or even 28 years, then film companies will be very, very happy. They can take a book, produce the film, then release it the day after copyright expires and never pay a penny to the author. Those film rights are a potential boon to authors, as is the potential income from licensed derivative works.
To give you an example of this: There's an Author. Nice bloke, but a bit ill these days. He's written possibly the most popular series of books of modern times. He's still publishing now: His next book is due in a few months. However, his first book in this series was written in 1983, 29 years ago. Right now, according to you, film makers could be in there, using that original book to base films on, authors could be in there writing their own books based on the world he created, and artists could be drawing the world he envisaged and he wouldn't have a say in any of it. All he might do is argue that some aspect of the work that has been copied didn't appear until a later book, which would arguably still be in copyright. It would be chaos, and it would break many people's hearts to see it happen. Jackals to a carcass, you might think, for the greedy will always seek to benefit from the works of others.
His name, of cause, is Sir Terry Pratchett, author of the Discworld books.
So, the problem is how do you handle series or sequels. Does the copyright run from the first book, giving the author only 14 (or 28) years to complete them all before the jackals appear, eager to rip off the original work and spoil things for the original author, or from the last book, which would just result in authors writing short story sequels to extend their copyright. Or do you let the author keep their rights until their death and then pass the rights on to their estate for a short time after? Surely that is the simplest, fairest and most balanced approach for all?
And that is pretty much what we have (other than the time the estate holds the rights seems to be extending, or the rights are going to a third party that wants to extend them even further...)