"Over the past 35 years, as the public has gained greater access to the means of communications, copyright law has increasingly placed limits on the public’s access and use of that content. These limits fall into four categories: First, copyright protection has become longer and easier to get. In 1972, copyright terms were 28 years with a 28-year renewal. By 1998, those terms were extended to 70 years beyond the life of an author and 95 years in the case of corporations ....
As the law has given Hollywood, the music industry and large book publishers even greater control over their content, the public’s ability to access that content has shrunk. Like any monopoly, the copyright industries have set licensing fees so high as to prevent all but the wealthiest companies from reusing those works. And aided by damages that would bankrupt most companies and individuals, these powerful companies regularly threaten litigation for even the most incidental uses of copyrighted works, turning “fair use” into what Lawrence Lessig calls “the right to hire a lawyer.” ..."
Six Steps to Digital Copyright Sanity: Reforming a Pre-VCR Law for a YouTube World
By Gigi B. Sohn