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October 21, 2008

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Stewart Engelman DNI Services

Professor Heald provides some interesting data, but I'm not sure he's focusing on the right question. I don't believe that the extent of use should be the driver of copyright time spans, as it focuses too much on the short-to-intermediate value of the work to the public. The really important consideration, both for the copyright owner and the public, is maximizing the rate at which valuable new works are produced. This enriches the authors (within limits), and makes the pool of material available to the public (pre and post copyright period) as large as possible.

If the copyright period is too short, there will be little incentive for the creativity and work that goes into developing new and valuable material. If it is too long, then intermediaries who bring the material to the public may search for inferior substitutes to minimize long term expense, which harms the public interest. Achieving the right balance is a subjective task, but the definition of the goal is objective. I think Professor Heald could have produced a more valuable study by focusing on the alternative mentioned.

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