FT.com Michael Eisner quotes Lincoln as a defender of intellectual property rights. He is probably right about that. However, he would have choked on the idea that term of protection for copyrights would last 95 years or more! That's more than the life expectancy of 99% of humanity or nearly 4 generations of Americans! This is the equivalent of saying that a copyright's protection lasts until “hell freezes over.” Certainly this isn't what the framers had in mind when they enshrined the protection of intellectual property for a “limited time” in the constitution. There isn't a reading of the constitution that could conclude otherwise.
“In an 1859 speech, Lincoln said that before there were patent laws, “any man might instantly use what another had invented; so that the inventor had no special advantage from his own invention. The patent system changed this; secured to the inventor, for a limited time, the exclusive use of his invention; and thereby added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius, in the discovery and production of new and useful things.” As Michael Novak, of the American Enterprise Institute, has pointed out, those principles explain why the US constitution includes a clause guaranteeing the right of inventors and authors to royalties for patents and copyrights.” [John Robb's Radio Weblog]