June 13, 2024

Lessig on Software Copyright

Larry Lessig defends his view of the best copyright law for software. Lessig advocates that (1) software copyrights expire after ten years (but a new version of a program would acquire a new copyright), and (2) source code be put in escrow, to be released when the copyright expires.

Whether you think the optimal term for software copyright is five years, or ten, or twenty, or something else, I think you have to agree that the current 95-year term for software is ridiculous. A sensible term would not last beyond the point where the author had extracted most or all of the available revenue from the work. Will Microsoft still be extracting revenue from the original version of Windows 95 in the year 2090? Of course not.