And what does he advocate for “properly limited” copyright? Thing is:
28 years is not long enough. (And remember that lifespans were shorter in the 18th century.) It can take several years to write a book (often longer), and tens of thousands of dollars to edit and produce it. I run a very small publishing business indeed, have published nine books so far, and kept them constantly in print (one in a new edition; I put the first edition OP). I have invested several hundred thousand dollars of my own money and 19 years of my own full-time work in these books. And, I’m barely getting by.
The sales of a book are not necessarily in direct proportion to its cultural value. “Trashy” bestsellers, for example, sell far more copies than most scholarly and scientific books: Does that mean our culture should quit supporting scholarly and scientific works? True, some scientific books become obsolete fast, but many scholarly books stand the test of time better.
And, a shorter copyright term essentially means supporting large publishers who keep books in print for a year or two, then drop them. POD and e-books are changing that strategy even for large publishers; but also, the industry is shifting towards a significantly higher percentage of micropublishers than there were even a few years ago. Micropublishers typically rely heavily on a backlist strategy where books take much longer to take off, sell much more slowly, and are kept in print for a long time to earn a profit.
I have no children, but if I did I’d want to leave them some money. The modest amount of money my parents left me was derived from decades of careful saving, conservative investment, and compound interest. Their stock purchases contributed no creative work to society. Why should creators of works and their heirs be financially penalized?
Why, exactly, is a shorter copyright term necessary? Desktop publishing has created an explosion of new books, hundreds of thousands more than just a few years ago. The Library of Congress cataloging system, and all the major review media are looking for excuses to weed out as many books as possible from even cursory consideration, because they are so swamped with submissions. True, the publishing industry is suffering from the recession, but so are most other industries.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.