In most of the world, the default length of copyright is the life of the author plus either 50 or 70 years, though there are deviations from this generalization. However, in the United States, the term for most existing works is a fixed number of years after the date of creation or publication, and is a function of when it was created to apply the various versions of the U.S. Copyright Act. For newly copyrighted works in the U.S., the term of the copyright for an individual is the life of the author plus 70 years and for works of corporate authorship, the term is 120 years after creation or 95 years after publication, whichever endpoint is earlier. Like with patents, this period of exclusivity is the "carrot" that the Founders of the United States wrote into the U.S. Constitution (Article I, Section 8, Clause 8, concerning patents and copyrights) in order to promote the progress of the sciences and useful arts, and help ensure that the engine of commerce gains power. In other words, the Founders wisely recognized that incentives matter to individuals and to businesses, both small and large.

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