Mark Twain, Lord Macauly and the Duration of Copyright

Mike Masnick from Techdirt put out a nice little piece on Mark Twain’s stance on copyright protection and its duration. It seems that the celebrated writer embodied – 100 years ago – both extreme positions that still shape our current discussions on copyright. Quite a fascinating read. And a funny one as well. Just try to imagine how Mr. Samuel L. Clemens appeared before a congressional committee and said the following two sentences:

“But I like the fifty years’ extension, because that benefits my two daughter, who are not as competent to earn a living as I am, because I have carefully raised them as young ladies, who don’t know anything and can’t do anything. So I hope Congress will extend to them that charity which they have failed to get from me.”

He couldn’t miss an opportunity for a little jest, huh?

Reading Mr. Masnick’s text reminded me of another little gem worth reading more than once (in particular in light of the EU’s recent move to extend the term of protection for sound recordings). It’s from a speech Lord Macauly delivered in the House of Commons in 1841 and starts at the bottom of page 199 and ends at page 201

Don’t miss it.


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