Many librarians, historians, and others have become increasingly concerned at the ever-expanding reach of copyright (and patent law for that matter) both in bredth and length. The Eric Eldred is a movement to put in place an easy system to speed the transition of commercial works that authors are not recieving value from into the public domain.
Disney, the RIAA, MPAA, and other groups continually push for tighter control by copyright holders (not necessarily artists and copyright creators) over the redistribution and derivation of their works. The argument has been made that by allowing artists to benefits from the proceeds for their works, more work is produced, and that it rewards creative producers.
Copyright too, is meant as a limited term protection to encourage talented individuals to produce more/higher quality works. The legal system allows artists, authors, musicians and the like to be paid, enabling them to work full-time on their passions.
It seems however, the current trend of increasing copyright terms immediately before current lucrative copyrights expires runs contrary to both of these arguments. While Elvis undoubtably deserved to be compensated for his works, does his estate? In a country with a strong culture of individual accomplishment, that has often fought to discourage aristocratic classes from emerging, why are we enriching decendents for the contributions of their ancestors?
And in the case of corporate copyrights, how long are we going to limit the benefits of works to Walt-Disney & Co. Is there any doubt that other creative individuals would be able to make money with works derived from the copyrighted ones (films and others which were often based on public domain stories) I think that there has to be a point at which you cut off the increasingly diminishing gains of an individual or corporation, and make a decision for the good of the whole. I also think that 70 years after an authors death is excessive if our goal is to produce incentives for the maximum production of works for the enjoyment of the public and the market.