Would Shakespeare Have Survived US Copyright Law?
Shakespeare’s classics Romeo and Juliet, Othello, As You Like It and Measure for Measure, among others, were based on works of fiction published in the decades before Shakespeare’s career. They thus would have been illegal under current U.S. copyright law, which keeps works out of the public domain for 70 years after the death of the author, or a total of 95 years for works for hire. Copyright protection for decades after Shakespeare’s death would have had no impact on his ability to produce work and limited impact on his incentive to do so–while the inability to retell contemporary stories would have directly restricted his creativity.
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