Several months ago I was researching an article, and came across a book that discussed the ways in which IP laws expanded as distribution and copying becomes easier. In 800 BC, copyright wasn’t even on the radar, because copying stuff was so difficult. With the printing press and then photocopiers and then the Internet (skipping a few steps in between), became widespread, it became seen as necessary and/or appropriate to “protect” a creator’s right to sell and distribute his work.
The problem is, we’re not necessarily better off for the expansion of those rights. Look at the massive amount (99%?) of materials that are unavailable because they are out of print and copyright laws prevent them from being made available for free. Much of it is crap, but much of it, I imagine, is an uncharted goldmine. And life plus 70 years, really, goes far beyond what’s “necessary and appropriate” for protecting a creator’s right to profit from his work, especially if he hasn’t been profiting off it for 60 of those years.
I’ll post that full article soon, since it was never published. The one above points to a different situation, but I thought it was relevant to the topic and to the fact that our government has its head completely up its own butt when it comes to protectionist legislation.