I'm a supporter of the weakest possible copyright system. I say seven years is plenty. If it's not, then let's go lifetime of the creator. And that's it. None of this "lifetime of the creator plus three generations" crap.
Copyrights should be used as they were designed, to give creators incentive to create new works and to usher already created works into the public domain.
Howlin Wolf has been dead for 35 years. Of course, he's not going to be creating any new works. His stuff isn't going to hit the public domain until I'm dead. But you can still hear his music.
Yes, his family, none of whom sing on any of Wolf's records, sold the rights to Pfizer to put in fucking Viagra commercials. No joke. I'm sitting at work and I hear that familiar Hubert Sumlin riff. My ears perk up and I look up at the screen. It's a goddamn Viagra commercial.
This musical treasure of immense cultural value...now just a jingle to sell boner pills.
Not that there's anything wrong with that. If the song were public domain, Pfizer could do that. And I could post a list of Howlin Wolf MP3s over there on the side-bar. And some record company could release a compilation. A movie could use it as source music. You could put it on a Youtube video. You could even record your own version.
You could do all of this now, of course, but it's going to cost you, not just a lot of money but a lot of mother-may-I's too. How does asking Howlin Wolf's grandkids permission to use his song in a Viagra commercial give incentive to create new works???
Consider what could have been...