Back on World IP Day, I argued that as part of our reflection on “how patents, copyright, trademarks and designs impact on daily life,” the point of World IP Day, we should consider “the original purpose of copyright laws and concept of intellectual property, we should consider how the concepts of copyright and intellectual property as products of the printing press are modern creations which post-date Shakespeare, and we should consider how vastly the concepts of copyright and intellectual property have changed during their few hundred year history.” Among other things, I noted, we should reflect upon the fact that the first copyright law in the United States, passed in 1790, granted a creator a copyright of 14 years plus an additional 14 years if they exercised their right of renewal, and its purpose was to “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” In contrast, today individual copyright lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years and corporate copyright lasts for 120 years.

This matters for many reasons and it may matter far more than we currently realize. Consider, for a moment, a posthuman future1

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  1. Or at least the brave new future of lobsters. []