I saw the title and was already afraid of how the post was going to be worded. Within reading the first 2 sentences of this article, I was cringing.
If you can't express yourself properly, nobody will take you seriously, and you won't win any intellectual argument.
Let's reword the title: What if Exclusive Intellectual Property Control Expired After 5 Years?
See the change? Intellectual property (or IP as everyone calls it) has existed, exists, and will exist forever. The exclusive control (with a few exceptions) over reproduction, distribution, etc is a limited monopoly granted by copyright and patent law, where the exclusive control lasts for a finite time. The authority to do any of this is in the US Constitution, but only in the simplest of terms. In order to change it, for all intents and purposes, one needs only to get (or buy) legislation--not amending the constitution itself--to change the rules of the game.
And, even this monopoly is a modern creation. Historically, most of all the worlds best music, paintings, etc were produced under patronage, where a wealthy person would pay the creator (which might include letting the person live on his estate, etc) to make a work for him. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patronage#Arts
Now, on to the real reason of your article: What if this exclusive control period was reduced to 5 years.
I have looked at this for a long time, and I have come to some conclusions myself. Let me share my conclusions.
My personal opinion: Patents have never had their duration period expanded. They are still 20 years. Why? Patents benefit companies/corporations for the short term for the original purpose -- to prevent a competitor from 'stealing' the idea and mass-producing it, reducing your rewards -- in the short term, but it is in their interest to get access to the IP in the long term. So, it's "naturally" limited in that sense. If one company got all patents lengthened to 100 years, they wouldn't be able to use a competitor's ideas either for 100 years.
But copyright is another matter. In this case, it's publishers (today) against the consumer. There is no "natural" limitation in the sense that to a publisher, the consumer is just another lowest common denominator revenue target, and not a competitor (that they want to 'limit') nor a high-value content producer that they can exploit. Once you see this, you see how they try to get copyrights extended to 'one day short of forever' (can't remember which liberal congressman said that recently, but one did) so they can abuse/extend their monopoly against 'us' if you will, with the content they already control.
For copyrights, there is no 'natural' competition to keep the game honest. So, will your 5-year period ever happen? Not without a revolution.
Now, as to your 5-year period. It's too short. It takes 3-6 years to get a product, like a new car model or a new CPU architecture, or a new DRAM standard, etc into production and into the market. With a 5-year exclusive period, it could be over before a company can make any money on their 'creativity' and a competitor could steal their thunder quite easily. For copyright as well, it could take 2-5 years to produce a movie, and they lose control of it in the same time as it took to make it? That makes it too short, as it could dissuade creative people from even trying to write/produce content.
But, the current 120-150 years is a joke. The US founding fathers struck a good balance: An initial 14-year copyright term, with an optional 14 years if the author is still alive and deemed it 'worth it' to pay the fees to extend it once more for another 14 years.
Since most books only have a single printing, the first term is long enough to motivate people to 'produce', while it's short enough that if it doesn't work out as the author intended, then the public can extend the idea on their own. It's the porridge is too cold/hot problem. There has to be a balance so everyone is benefited.
Let's look at Star Wars as an example. With the original copyright terms, after 28 years, me or my son, and anyone else, could start producing movies, writing books, etc, in the Star Wars universe. The balance is, George Lucas should get no more than 28 years to make his money off of his efforts. With 28 years, the original Star Wars would have been in the public domain in 2006. (In today's world, I would even argue a 10/20 year term is long enough, but at least we are still in the same order-of-magnitude.)
From a cultural standpoint, that's about half of a person's productive lifetime. With a 28 year copyright term, a person or society in general would be free to expand the Star Wars universe how they see fit. This is the compromise that copyright was supposed to provide: the author could make their money, while society (that was alive/effected at the time of initial release) could benefit from the creativity, and then expand on it.
With current copyright laws, my son will never 'legally' be able to make/produce/participate in a fanfiction movie in the Star Wars universe. Maybe not even his son, or his son's son. When multiple generations of 'us' can't legally be creative with an idea like Star Wars, that helped shape a generation's idea of lasers going pew pew in space, something is wrong.
But, Would George spend 100 million dollars to produce another movie, if he lost all exclusive rights to it in 5 years? Probably not. Then, people aren't publishing creativity because they couldn't make enough money off of projects to justify them. That swings the pendulum too far to the other extreme.
So, to make a long-story short, 5 years is too short. The current term is wayyy too long. Something in the 10-20 year range is reasonable.
One last point. From a software standpoint, I would like to see a change where if someone wants copyrights on software, they would have to provide the source code to a government agency, and after their term, the source code is released. Then, other people could read/learn/extend it much easier.
Also, once a thing is published, it should never have its term lengthened. Rather than stating the publishing date in the front cover of a book, it should have printed the copyright expiration date. If laws change in the meantime to shorten it, great. If not, everyone still knows when the book will be in the public domain -- no matter what. It's mess right now with all the extensions, changes, etc to know when a book/movie/work is in the public domain so people can start to reproduce it.