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From a policy standpoint, I think the duration of copyright is way too long. Whether "life plus 50 [years]" was correct or not I think can only be answered by taking into account what we got internationally. There was never an argument that "life plus 50" was required to give adequate incentive; "life plus 50" had been the standard in the Berne Convention for some period of time, and the idea of shifting to that in the [Copyright Act of 1976] was ... because it benefited us overseas. If I had the ability to write the copyright laws myself, I would probably make the term life of the author and that's it. I think the [current] term is way too long from a policy standpoint.
While I would urge the reader to consider arguments on their own merits, Patry is a legendary copyright expert with very few peers. He has served as copyright counsel to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, policy advisor to the Register of Copyrights, and professor of law at Cardozo. His treaty on copyright, Patry on Copyright, is the largest ever produced. Patry is currently Google's senior copyright counsel.
The bulk of the interview will also be published in the June issue of Searcher magazine.
Thanks to Hurst Associates for the link.