Since copper is excellent at dissipating heat and does not rust, I am surprised that brake manufacturers do not electroplate cast iron/steel brake rotors with a thin layer of copper (~.5mm). There are brake manufacturers who offer brake rotors with cadmium or zinc-plated coatings at an additional cost but these coatings usually do not last long especially in areas that use a lot of rock salt.
I think copper plating would be the most ideal coating for ventilated brake rotors since it should keep the cooling vanes from rusting and becoming clogged with rust. Clogged cooling vanes reduce the rotor's cooling capacity resulting in higher temperatures, faster rotor wear, premature warping, and a shortened lifespan.
Moreover, since copper is very good at dissipating heat, air flowing through copper-plated cooling vanes should draw away more heat from the brake rotor, resulting in a cooler ventilataed brake rotor, maximizing or perhaps even extending its intended lifespan.
Also, since there should be almost no rust on a copper-plated brake rotor, removing an worn out, copper-plated brake rotor should be no problem. Anyone who has worked on brakes knows how time-consuming it is to remove a rusted-on brake rotor or drum.
The brake manufacturer should not electroplate the friction areas (as shown in the picture below) since the high pressure and friction from contact with the brake pads would most likely warp the copper coating, but all the other surfaces would have a copper coating, most importantly the surfaces of the cooling vanes.
Will electroplating a ventilated brake rotor with copper improve its cooling capacity and maximize its lifespan?