The right of copyright protection was first included in the U.S. Constitution (Wilson, 2005). The purpose was to allow artists and inventors to develop new products and masterpieces in order to help the U.S. develop as a powerful nation. The reality is that times have changed. Waxer & Baum (2006) indicated that the copyright law continues to experience changes. The most common change is the increased rights of the authors, which has resulted in conflicts as to the author’s economical right to the product and the intent of society to progress, mentioned in the Progress Clause.
Copyright protection lasts seventy years. During this period of time no one can reproduce the product in exactly the same form. “Copyright protects only particular expressions of ideas, not the ideas themselves”(Wilson, 2005, p.8). During this period of time others can duplicate the methods used to develop the idea as long as they do not replicate the exact product. The length of time that a copyrighted protection lasts does not limit other inventors from creating new products based on the idea of the original product. In that sense, the length of time involved in a copyright protection does not limit progress.
Since there are limits as to what is considered copyrightable material, there are pieces of work that can be used freely by others without the creator’s permission. For example, a writer develops a new book with a creative new plot. Since literary plots are not copyright protected, anyone can write another book using the same plot. On the other hand, you can use the ideas of others freely. For example, the grocery store down the street is using a double coupon Tuesday strategy to persuade customers to enter the store. You can use the same idea.
How can copyright laws be fair to all of those involved? How can any law fully protect the rights of the creator, while allowing technological and creative progress to continue? At what point do the rights of one party become more important than those of the other?
Waxer, B. M., & Baum, M. L. (2006). Internet surf and turf revealed: the essential guide to copyright, fair use, and finding media. Boston, Massachusetts: Thomson Course Technology.