Several have cited this interesting piece on whether or not there is a conflict between some of the rationale’s for Larry Lessig’s call for copyright term reform and the arguments for the Long Tail economy: Long Tail vs. Lessig. I’m drawn to these particular paragraphs, which express what I have always thought was an ugly underside to the copyright argument - a kind of a “dog in the manger” perception that copyright exists to protect the initial creator from more creators who are better at it than they are:
What’s changed is the presumption that the primary rights-holder is the best at extracting the commercial potential of creative material. Instead, anyone can do it: the advertising company that remixes an old movie to sell a car; the Linux t-shirt done Warhol-style, or just plain old DJ magic. What you need to encourage this multiplicity of commercialization potential is tiered alternatives to one-size-fits-all copyright, from allowing derivative works (good marketing!) to shorter terms for the sake of the remix-culture social good. I can’t think of a better example of that than Lessig’s own Creative Commons, which has already become the license of choice for the right side of the Tail, where the commercial imperative is less all-consuming.
So, bottom line: the Long Tail ends up in the same place Lessig does, but via a different path–the diversification of commercial potential rather than the absence of it. I hope that the hypothetical Member of Congress to whom Hornik’s students were addressing their arguments can see the big picture. The shelf life of creative works may be growing, but so is the social cost of locking them up at the sole discretion of the primary rights-holder.