Making Light: This is not about "intellectual property"
- The copyright is not an innate right, but a creation of human government.
- A copyright is a form of monopoly, and therefore effectively a tax on the public—thus, it should be restricted to precisely as long a term as would make equivalent the harm done to the public by monopoly and the good provided by encouraging the creation of new works.
- The prospect of income from a property a long time after one’s death is no incentive whatsoever to the creation of new works.
- The probability that the persons for whom the author might have concern will own the copyright a long time after one’s death is minute.
- The probability that the copyright owner might suppress the works, for whatever reason, is great.
See also a prescient short story on the topic. Recently the NYT published an editorial calling for even longer persistence of copyright. I didn't have the heart to read it.