From Mark Twain through Mark Helprin, a lengthy lineage of authors hs argued that copyright should last forever. But that contention doesn't go far in the Internet age, says Rufus Pollock, a graduate student in economics at the University of Cambridge.
In a paper titled "Forever Minus a Day? Some Theory and Empirics of Optimal Copyright," he says the duration of copyright should lessen, over time, as technology makes it easier to produce and disseminate content. Then Mr. Pollock, a Ph.D. candidate, goes a step further: After some mathematical heavy lifting, he concludes that the "optimal term" for copyright on books and recordings is only 14 years.
"This is substantially shorter than any current copyright term," he writes in the paper's abstract, "and implies that existing copyright terms are too long." (Thanks to Boing Boing for the link.) –Brock Read