How long should copyright last? By Victor Keegan

January 2008

All Areas

In 1735 William Hogarth, after a lively public campaign, helped to pass an act giving engravers the rights to their work for 14 years from publication. It was a landmark in the history of copyright as it bestowed on engravers similar legal rights to authors and stopped sellers of prints from creaming off all the profits. Hogarth would be amazed today to find that in the US copyright has been extended to 70 years – not from the date of publication, but from the death of the author. In Britain it was regarded as rather bold of the Gowers report – on which the government will pronounce soon – to suggest that Britain should keep the existing limit of “only” 50 years after death …. Read more at

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