The purpose of copyright is to promote creativity. And it does so by providing creators a limited monopoly to distribute their works with the aim to make money.
The limited time for works was 28 years and if the creator renewed they would get another 28 years and if they didn’t renew, then the works would end up in the Public Domain. All up 56 years was the term.
But not all works made money so 98% of them would end up in the Public Domain after 26 years.
What’s the point in renewing if it’s worth nothing?
Having copyright terms that last 70 years after the death of the creator does not promote creativity.
It promotes money for lawyers because of the heirs who sue or it make money for the corporations who control the rights.
It also promotes laziness from the creator who has no incentive to create anymore works. Certain artists tell us that they have no incentive to create new works and are quite happy to live off their past works which had public acceptance.
Works from 1924 will enter the US public domain and most of these works are already in the public domain in other parts of the world, which means anyone can use these works as raw material for their own creations, without fear of a lawsuit.
Prior to the 1976 Copyright Act (which became effective in 1978), the maximum copyright term was 56 years—an initial term of 28 years, renewable for another 28 years. Under those laws, works published in 1963 would have entered the public domain if Copyright was never extended to last for the life of the creator plus 70 years.
Works from 1963 like the songs from The Beatles’ albums “Please, Please Me” and “With The Beatles” or songs from The Beach Boys’ album “Surfin’ U.S.A” album’s would be in the Public Domain.
All those works available to build new works, in the same way way The Beatles and The Beach Boys built their works on the blues music already in the Public Domain at that point in time.
But when we create works, we do not do it because of Copyright law. We do it because we need to create and we love to create.
Imagine if those terms existed past 1978. Works from 1991 which failed to get renewed would be in the Public Domain.