Originally Posted by corroonb
The point I was making is that if you argue for copyright on the moral basis of the author deserving a reward for their labour (as HarryT most certainly did among others), then you have no logical reason not to extend that argument to every author or creator who ever lived. Does death remove their right to be rewarded? Not according to current copyright law in most countries in the world. Does the moral right simply end at their death and thereafter there is only the legal right of their descendants to proceeds but not a moral right?
The problem with using such moral arguments as the basis for copyright is that they are not compatible with current copyright law or common sense. Although current copyright law is utter nonsense for the most part. If it ended at death, that would at least make some sense. It should either expire at death or be infinite. Any half-way, arbitrary limit is just the kind of nonsense lawyers love to concoct.
The problem is, how can you reward someone who is dead? Traditionally you reward someone with money, but if the person is dead, you cannot pay them. If you give it to their family, you're rewarding the family and not the creator. (What if we started giving your paychecks to your brother or sister, instead of you, that's still cool, right?) The idea for copyright after death, is to allow for respect of the creator's wishes for a period after death, to allow the estate to get things in order (generate capital to pay outstanding debt, etc.), and to prevent a mad dash to get at people's things as soon as they die. For instance, Stieg Larsson wrote three hugely popular books, but he died shortly after the very first one was published. At the time of his death, he was largely unknown. Had no post death protection been in place, the publisher would have kept 100% of the profits, and his family would be left with all his bills, a decent chunk of it presumably incurred while writing those books.