US Copyright law now runs for the life of the author plus 75 years. Call it a century. The publishers like it, but in actually practice it takes scads of books off the market. Most books only stay in print for 10 or 15 years. Once out of print, they are unavailable, but, still under copyright so Xeroxing a few copies is illegal. They don't enter the public domain for another 90 years or so. Keeping them on copyright earns nothing for the author, although the publishers are in favor lest old books compete with sale of new ones.
We ought to reduce copyright to the original 17 years. All the money the author gets will be gotten inside of 17 years. After that time, the big sales have been made. Plus the author ought to get off his duff and write something new. It's proper to reward authors, but 17 years of royalties is enough reward in my book.
Big plus, most music is more than 17 years old, so most downloading becomes legal. The labels haven't found new artists in the last twenty years. Don't believe me? Just hit signal seek on the car radio. Can you find a song that isn't twenty years old on the air?
Then copyright should restrict only the right to SELL copies. Making copies, giving away copies, and downloading songs isn't selling. It ought to be legal. Taping music off the air is legal, taping movies off the air is legal, why is downloading off the internet not legal?
During this summer of healthcare discontent, it's hard to focus on anything but healthcare, but we ought to broaden our horizons. The young voters see downloading as a fundamental right. The party that supports it will gain a lot of votes. It might cost them bribes/campaign contributions from the publishers and the labels, but votes and voters are more important than cash for getting re elected, the prime objective of all politicians.