F. Scott Fitzgerald Made $8,397 On Great Gatsby; His Daughter Gets $500,000 Per Year From It

from the just-as-Jefferson-intended? dept

There have been an increasing number of questions raised about both the length of copyright and the fact that it passes on to heirs after the original creator passes on. The original purpose of copyright had nothing to do with creating a welfare system for the children of content creators, no matter how much some content creators would like it to work that way. Economist Greg Mankiw points out a "factoid" that drives home the oddity that comes from such long copyrights:
Royalties from The Great Gatsby totaled only $8,397 during Fitzgerald's lifetime. Today Gatsby is read in nearly every high school and college and regularly produces $500,000 a year in [F. Scott Fitzgerald's daughter] Scottie's trust for her children.
The article this comes from goes into great detail into F. Scott Fitzgelald's earnings over his lifetime, and what's striking is that with a different sort of copyright system in place, he barely seems to rely on copyright royalties at all to make money. Instead -- like most jobs -- he recognizes he needs to keep producing new works to earn money, selling stories to various publications, along with working for Hollywood studios in addition to his novels. How much things have changed.


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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 10:35am

    Shocking

    "Instead -- like most jobs -- he recognizes he needs to keep producing new works to earn money..."

    Well, isn't that a novel idea.

     

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      :Lobo Santo (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 10:38am

      Re: Shocking

      That was a horrible pun.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:25am

      Re: Shocking

      YYYYEEEEAAAAHHHH

       

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      Dark Helmet (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:26am

      Re: Shocking

      "Well, isn't that a novel idea."

      Actually, I think his plot was a good one. It certainly showed character...

       

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      Michael Long, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 2:53pm

      Re: Shocking

      "Instead -- like most jobs -- he recognizes he needs to keep producing new works to earn money..."

      This horse is often trottled out of the barn durning these discussions, and to my mind it's simply made of straw. Did Edison just create one invention, and then rest on his laurels? Did King or Clancey or Heinlein just write one bestselling novel and call it quits? Did Spielberg just direct one blockbuster?

      Heck, even bands labeled as "one hit wonders" aren't in that category on purpose. Most at least tried to come up with another song or hit in order to build on their earlier success, but simply failed to capture the public's fancy.

      I suspect that if you look at almost any inventor, author, director, or musician, you'll find that the "hit" upon whose larels they're supposedly resting was neither their first attempt, nor their last.

      One should also note that that in order to produce new work one still needs to be able to live off the proceeds of the existing work.

       

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        Richard (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 3:34pm

        Re: Re: Shocking

        One should also note that that in order to produce new work one still needs to be able to live off the proceeds of the existing work.

        Michael

        According to this logic all horses are the same colour.

        You see if I assume that any set of N horses will all be the same colour then if I add a horse (making N+1 horses) then I can subdivide my set of N+1 horses into N horses and 1 horse in at least 2 ways. Each time I do this the N horses will all be the same colour and so -inevitably- the N+1 horses will also be all the same colour since they will all at some point be in the N horse set.

        Now one horse is the same colour as itself so by mathematical induction all horses are the same colour.

        Once you have worked out why this argument is rubbish you will see why yours is too.

         

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          Michael Long, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 4:27pm

          Re: Re: Re: Shocking

          Arguing by analogy proves... well, nothing, actually.

          And that one was particulary bad.

          Artists and authors need to put food on the table, pay rent and pay for insurance and clothing and cars and gas like anyone else.

          Even the plumber who gets paid per job actually gets PAID per job. No one suggests that he give his work away, and then do his next job for free, and then do his next job for free, and so on, all because he "loves" plumbing, and to make ends meet he should take a job at Walmart.

          Authors make a risky, up front investment in time and money to produce work "on spec". it takes months, or even years to produce such work. We, as readers, then get to evaluate the results (reviews, friends, dust jackets, previous work) and decide if the potential entertainment value is worth a few bucks. If so, we buy it.

          If enough of us do so, he makes some money, and in all probability uses it to write another book. If not, maybe he goes to work for Walmart after all.

          You are not "forced" to pay him for his work. On the other hand, you're not automatically entitled to it either. Value is and should be given for value received.

          He makes a major investment in time and money, and you pay an almost insignificant fraction of that amount to enjoy the result.

          And your problem with that is?

           

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            ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 5:26pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Shocking

            "Even the plumber who gets paid per job actually gets PAID per job. No one suggests that he give his work away, and then do his next job for free, and then do his next job for free, and so on, all because he "loves" plumbing, and to make ends meet he should take a job at Walmart."

            Yeah, whatever. I'm just glad I'm not paying for my grandfather's plumber's kids every time I flush.

             

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          Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 8:03pm

          Re: Re: Re: Shocking

          Many artists who release their works under creative commons licenses do just fine. If an artist doesn't like the competition then find another job. But don't ask the government to hold your hand by granting you a monopoly.

           

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            Michael Long, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:04pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Shocking

            What monopoly? You mean, like a Stephen King book only being available from Stephen King?

             

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              wvhillbilly (profile), Oct 30th, 2009 @ 5:07pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Shocking

              What monopoly?

              The legal monopoly the author has over his work. He alone can make or authorize to be made copies, derivative works, perform the work or authorize others to do so, and so on. The original concept of copyright was to give the author this monopoly for a limited time, after which the work was to pass into the public domain, so anyone could make use of it.

              I believe the original term of copyright was 14 years, with an optional extension for another 14 years. Now it is the life of the author plus 70 years. And it gets extended another 20 years or so every time the copyright on Mickey Mouse is about to expire. Under the current term of copyright no work copyrighted today will enter the public domain in our lifetime, the lifetime of our children, our grandchildren or maybe even the lifetime of our great, great grandchildren. In many cases that means when the author dies, his work dies with him because no one knows who owns the copyrights, the work is under copyright for the next two generations and nobody knows who to contact for permission to use the work. This is what is known as an "orphaned work." By the time it enters the public domain it is long forgotten and lost forever.

              If congress is going to extend the term of copyright another 20 or more years every time somebody or another's copyright is about to expire, nothing under copyright since 1919 (I think, all works under copyright whose copyrights were about to expire under the old law had their term automatically extended under the new) will ever enter the public domain. This means that potentially much of the culture of today and the past 90 years could be lost forever. Not that with the quality of some of the works being produced today, that would be any great loss. But there is a lot of stuff from the past which will also be lost, if the term of copyright is extended forever.

              Isn't that enough damage?

               

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        Derek Kerton (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 5:58pm

        Re: Re: Shocking

        So you are advocating a rewards system based on "effort", not on results. Specifically, we should reward artists based on the fact that some are exerting ongoing effort, not whether they produce anything in demand or not.

        Extrapolating your argument just one step, one might ask: Why only reward one-hit-wonder artists for their effort? If our scheme is to reward for effort, then we should also reward those that fail to produce anything in demand, or in fact fail to produce -- so long as they are exerting effort.

        The above is a terrible idea, since thus implemented, the market loses the ability to reward and encourage relatively valuable, good output. In your rubric, not only is all output rewarded equally, but 'no output' is also rewarded. This captures some of the worst incentive elements of communism. I prefer a merit-based, or output-based economy.

         

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          Michael Long, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:16pm

          Re: Re: Re: Shocking

          First, read my comment above on "one hit wonders".

          Second, don't put words in my mouth.

          Third, are you an idiot? As I also mention above, authors make a risky, up front investment in time and money to produce work "on spec". We, as readers, then get to evaluate the results (reviews, friends, dust jackets, previous work) and decide if the potential entertainment value is worth a few bucks. If so, we buy it.

          Then, AND ONLY THEN, is their effort rewarded.

          If it's trash, then no one buys it. If it's bad, only a few buy it, and the author is upside down on his investment. If it's short-lived, then people stop buying it over time and the royalties also diminish over time.

          If it's great, then people buy it and keep on buying it. The author is rewarded for making the investment in time and money and, as do most, start in on the next book in the series.

          It's ENTIRELY demand and merit based, as only the "valuable, good output" is rewarded with sufficient sales, and we, as readers and consumers, only pay an insiginifcant fraction of the "development" costs.

           

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            Derek Kerton (profile), Oct 30th, 2009 @ 1:10pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Shocking

            Sure, sure. That's fine so long as you backtrack. What you said before was that they should CONTINUE to be rewarded for that older work because they are still "trying to come up with another song or hit". Here it was:

            "One should also note that that in order to produce new work one still needs to be able to live off the proceeds of the existing work."

            So, in your words, you have opened the door that society should compensate people because they may be "trying to come up" with more.

            I didn't put words in your mouth. I just read the ones you wrote. If what you write is wrong, you may be called out on it.

            Now I did take your logic one step further. You say I put words in your mouth, but you'll note that I wrote, "Extrapolating your argument just one step..." Which indicates that I DID add words, but did not "put them in your mouth." If you understand the meaning of extrapolation, you might understood how it can be a tool used to prove an opposing argument wrong, by merely thinking it through a bit more than the original argument.

            Am I stupid? Not last time they tested me. I'll check my credentials and reputation, and get back to you on that.

             

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        Drew (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 8:19pm

        Re: Re: Shocking

        I have to say, WOW, you missed the point entirely. If you'll notice this was not about an Author, the content creator, getting paid for his/her work; it was about how the descendants are now getting paid for content that was not theirs.


        Besides missing the point you state:
        "One should also note that that in order to produce new work one still needs to be able to live off the proceeds of the existing work."

        This is not a logical or factual argument as the artist, author, painter, etc. does not 'need' to live off the proceeds of their old work. It is true that 'in order to produce new work one does need to be able to live', but that is where the fact/logic ends. It would be nice for the artist, author, etc. to be able to live off their existing work but not necessary for their continued survival. Your type of argument falls into the category of 'entitlement society', once content creators and their representatives move away from this type of thinking everyone wins.

        To conclude, I can not stress this enough, where in the constitution does it say that the heirs (often times several generations removed) of content creators should receive the patent/copyright for work they did not do?

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 9:20pm

          Re: Re: Re: Shocking

          "One should also note that that in order to produce new work one still needs to be able to live off the proceeds of the existing work."

          So in order for someone to continue working they must get paid for work they've already been paid for. So if I get paid $10 an hour then for the second hour I should get $10 for my first hour plus an additional $10 for my second hour.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 9:21pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Shocking

            (that is in addition to the $10 I already got paid the first hour totaling $30 for two hours of work at $10 an hour).

             

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            Drew (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 10:46pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Shocking

            that is exactly his faulty logic

             

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            Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 10:52pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Shocking

            writing is not like a $10-an-hour job simply because in the job you get 10 bucks once the hour is up. for a writer, returns are spread out over time...which is why copyright continues to remain in place even though its origial intent was quite different.

             

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              Drew (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:09pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Shocking

              You mean besides the initial payment from the publisher for the work? The ability of the writer to ask for an advance as he works on creating the work? These seem like just compensation to me, you 'do' something you get paid for 'doing' something. Yes it really is that simple.

               

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                Michael Long, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:19pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Shocking

                An advance is just that, an advance. Until it's repaid you get no royalties whatsoever.

                 

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                  Drew (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:34pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Shocking

                  Again, that advance should come out of the payment the publisher pays the author once they deliver the completed work. Again royalties should not come into the equation at all. Essentially a publisher purchases from the author the right to produce a book first, after the initial production and the book is delivered to stores it is now in the public domain and can be published by anyone if they so choose (this of course is the world before copyright and worked just fine as we see books and works from before copyright.)

                   

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                    Michael Long, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:56pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Shocking

                    "Royalties should not come into the equation at all."

                    Says you. I say they should. An author is making an up-front investment writing something that may not be rewarded at all. He's betting his time and money on the fact that it will.

                    It's risk/reward formula, in that those who take risks deserve to be rewarded if (note the if), if the market feels that their work has value. Entrepreneurs do it all the time.

                    If he does a great job and makes a great product, he's rewarded for it. If he makes a crappy product he's not. Simple.

                    If an inventor starts a business making whatsits, and the market falls in love with his whatsits and he sells millions of them, then he is well rewarded for his invention, yes?

                    Why should not a great author have the same benefit?

                     

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                      Drew (profile), Oct 30th, 2009 @ 12:18am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Shocking

                      "Says you. I say they should. An author is making an up-front investment writing something that may not be rewarded at all. He's betting his time and money on the fact that it will."

                      So during this time that the author is working on the project where does his money, food, housing come from, thin air?

                      "If he does a great job and makes a great product, he's rewarded for it. If he makes a crappy product he's not. Simple."

                      You speak about reward, but its a matter of just compensation for their time...I would go into greater detail but I believe one of my other comments already covers this.


                      "If an inventor starts a business making whatsits, and the market falls in love with his whatsits and he sells millions of them, then he is well rewarded for his invention, yes?

                      Why should not a great author have the same benefit?"

                      Finally, you are talking about a unique item this 'whatsit' which this inventor creates. Personally I'm for doing away with patents but that's another discussion. Now if this 'whatsit' is easy to replicate then it will be easy to piece together. Just as an example let us say that up until now no ladder's ever existed, only step stools, one day an inventor decides to make a 'ladder' out of wood using bolts and reinforced steel rods to add structure and starts to sell this innovation. I stroll by his ladder stand and look it over, this would be really useful but I can make it better and I go home and use a welder to create a ladder completely from steel. I have used this innovators 'idea' to build a ladder, if I hadn't seen his ladder I may have never built it. However if I have no idea how to make one myself then I would purchase from this person. The same goes for any other innovation. I could go into much greater detail but the association you are trying to make between a physical object and a story (which are ideas) is not very relevant to this discussion about copyright.

                       

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                        Michael Long, Oct 30th, 2009 @ 12:48am

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Shocking

                        "So during this time that the author is working on the project where does his money, food, housing come from, thin air?"

                        Ah, what part of the term "investment" do you not understand? I've said time and again that a write invests his time AND his money creating a work.

                        "You speak about reward, but its a matter of just compensation for their time..."

                        It's a matter of compensation for his time, his money, and the risk. He could, after all, have spent that time and money doing something else. It's also a matter of compensation for the value of his creation.

                        I suspect that we've inadvertently stumbled on your real problem: The phrase "just compensation" says it all.

                        You apparently think authors are like plumbers, one pretty much the other, each cranking out the same words on some word-processing assembly line, and that they should be compensated as such. Number of hours worked times $10 per hour equals his "just" compensation.

                        It appears to stick in your craw that someone can take a risk and be handsomely rewarded for doing so. That someone can be more creative than you, and be handsomely rewarded for that fact.

                        And that society values their contributions more than your own. It's not fair, is it? No, not fair at all.

                        (The fact that many also take the same exact risk and gain nothing from it also seems to elude you. Such is the nature of risk/reward.)

                         

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                          Drew (profile), Oct 30th, 2009 @ 1:30am

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Shocking

                          So you're done discussing and defending your 'industry' and have moved into the 'insult' phase?

                           

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                            Michael Long, Oct 30th, 2009 @ 1:38am

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Shocking

                            You're the one that said, "just compensation," as if it's some kind of sin for someone to profit from their own creations.

                            And it's not "my" industry.

                             

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                              Drew (profile), Oct 30th, 2009 @ 2:05am

                              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Shocking

                              Ahh I see, you thought I meant "just compensation" when what I really meant was only "compensation". As far as I am concerned this is total profit for the author. You speak about an author using his time and money as if he was wasting these by writing, an author is doing what they want to do writing. If he is not a published author yet then he has some other job which is paying the bills and he is using his spare time to write rather than practice guitar and become a musician, or read, or get a higher education, or anything else people do in their spare time. The benefit though is at the end he can sell his creation for money, and if the public likes him he can maybe sell his next copy for even more, and if he is really lucky he can quit that job and live off of what he has sold his work for and write full-time.

                               

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                Michael Long, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:29pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Shocking

                You're also assuming that one received an advance. Fewer and fewer authors do these days...

                 

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                  Drew (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:47pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Shocking

                  The advance of course is not required of course, just an example.

                  Lets take a look at an unknown author, they have no contracts and essentially must create a good enough work to 'sell' it, being able to eat and live indoors while they create this first work is more than likely covered by the job they have when they are not writing. Once they have completed their work and are able to sell the right of first publish to a given publisher they receive an amount from the publisher, the amount would be an agreed upon sum between the two parties. Look now the author has some money to use for food and living indoors while he writes the next book, if it's not enough to pay all the bills until they sell this book then they...get/keep a job.

                  If the first book sold out of the initial production amount, and then was sold by many book vendors, selling many copies and creating a large demand for this second book then the author knows they can charge the next publisher more money for this second book. I could go on, but this is called getting compensated for something you create rather than getting compensated for something you created 5, 10,..., 75 years ago.

                   

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                    Michael Long, Oct 30th, 2009 @ 12:58am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Shocking

                    "...then the author knows they can charge the next publisher more money for this second book. I could go on..."

                    Don't. Your lack of knowledge of publishing, copyright, and the impact of what you're suggesting is frightening.

                    So the publisher pays a lot more for the second book? So the publisher then has a lot more money to recoup, yes? So he has to print a lot more books to do so.

                    But if the book is instantly in the public domain, Knock-Off Books can immediately print it's own copies, distribute them, and charge, say, a $1 for them, since unlike Original Books they didn't pay the author a dime.

                    Same cover, same binding, same text. Cheaper price. Which one is the public going to buy? Which one will Walmart stock?

                    What publisher is going to take the risk of actually paying an author, knowing that they're going to be stuck with the bill? In your scenario, he who pays first loses.

                     

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                      Drew (profile), Oct 30th, 2009 @ 1:21am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Shocking

                      So what your saying is that consumers, if the supply is essentially infinite, want a reason to buy the better quality version? Besides the concept of many consumers wishing to own 'First Edition' books, I'm sure a bright publishing company could come up with numerous ways to increase the 'value' of their 'official' version and give consumers a reason to buy.

                      I've heard similar concepts somewhere before...if only I could remember what industry claims that if content was given away content creators would evaporate and never be able to make money contrary to the fact that numerous content creators are making even more money, while the 'distributors' are increasingly trying to 'protect' content creators from the evil consumers....

                       

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                        Michael Long, Oct 30th, 2009 @ 1:27am

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Shocking

                        "...want a reason to buy the better quality version? Besides the concept of many consumers wishing to own 'First Edition' ..."

                        Same quality, they're all printed in China anyway. And I can print "official" and "first edition" on my knockoff too.

                         

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                          The Infamous Joe (profile), Oct 30th, 2009 @ 7:37am

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Shocking

                          That would be false advertising, wouldn't it? If you printed something clearly false, (e.g. "Official") on a book that wasn't.

                           

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          Michael Long, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:27pm

          Re: Re: Re: Shocking

          "Your type of argument falls into the category of 'entitlement society', once content creators and their representatives move away from this type of thinking everyone wins."

          You mean, everyone except those who actually create the work? The ones that spent years writing books and novels and plays and stories? Those people?

          I've said it before and I'll say it again, from my perspective, you're the one advocating the "entitlement society", in that you're the one stating that you're somehow entitled to someone else's work, free of charge.

          I will say, however, that we'd be better off limiting the period to, say, the same 17-year period given patents, after which rights revert to the commons.

          But I'm not for completely throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

           

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            Drew (profile), Oct 30th, 2009 @ 12:00am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Shocking

            "You mean, everyone except those who actually create the work? The ones that spent years writing books and novels and plays and stories? Those people?"

            Look above for a good example in my other comment. I detail that the author more than likely will get paid, however just because they spent years writing a book doesn't mean they deserve to get paid for 1, 5,10, 20, 70 years for the same story; they should get one payment from a publisher for the ability to print the story first, after that it's public domain. I think Derek Kerton said it fairly well with the following comment farther down the page(or up depending on your view):
            "Think of Grok the caveman storyteller. He invents a good story, tells it, and then everyone he told is free to repeat it."

             

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              Michael Long, Oct 30th, 2009 @ 12:13am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Shocking

              "...just because they spent years writing a book doesn't mean they deserve to get paid for 1, 5,10, 20, 70 years for the same story..."

              Why? I'm all for shorter terms, but why? They took the risk in exchange for an entirely potential reward. You did not.

              Besides, what about, say, ebooks? The next thing. In your example the publisher buys the book and then... what? Every copy is free? How many "ebooks" can he publish/sell before it's free? Five? Ten? How about a million?

              Or until he recoups his investment? Okay... but the publisher made an investment in paying for something that may or may not sell. He took a risk. So how much "profit" is he allowed to make? How many failed risks is he allowed to cover?

              Or, I know, how about specifying some period of time during which it can be sold, after which it's "free"?

               

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                Drew (profile), Oct 30th, 2009 @ 12:46am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Shocking

                "Or until he recoups his investment? Okay... but the publisher made an investment in paying for something that may or may not sell. He took a risk. So how much "profit" is he allowed to make? How many failed risks is he allowed to cover?"
                Lets use another example. With a new author their first book may only have cost the publisher $1,000 to purchase; the publisher makes up 4,000 hard-cover books, maybe a few special one with a leather binding or something like that. These initial books are to be released across the nation at book stores on a given 'release date', if the publisher does it's job these initial books sell without an issue; however once these books are released anyone can take the story and copy it and sell it. The new author is a huge hit and makes some money promoting the book by signing copies, any copy not just the initial ones created by the first publisher. This first story was such a large success that the public can't wait to get their hands on the next book. The author writes the second book, possibly approached by multiple publisher's offering differing deals for the right to first publish; the author agrees to the best deal for himself and finishes writing the book. The publisher receives the book paying the author $500,000, and creates 1 million hard cover copies for release; the buzz about this second book is huge and every copy is purchased and then follows the same general process as the first. This creates a larger demand on these 'first' edition books for this author.

                To recap, the author created a book and received compensation. The book was a huge success and so with the second book the compensation was much larger, since the risk of not selling copies was low to the publisher.


                "Besides, what about, say, ebooks?...."

                Actually with an eBook why would the need a publisher? To take something I've learned here on TechDirt if an author could write a story and release it as an eBook, he could make it where he is selling some other 'finite' good and giving the story away with it. This would, and does, require a completely different business model than the writer/publisher/distributor/bookseller one.

                 

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                  Michael Long, Oct 30th, 2009 @ 1:17am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Shocking

                  "To take something I've learned here on TechDirt if an author could write a story and release it as an eBook, he could make it where he is selling some other 'finite' good and giving the story away with it. "

                  Bullshit. Authors sell stories and words. Period.

                  How many Tom Clancy t-shirts have you purchased? How many Stephen King book signings have you PAID to attend? How many fractions of one percent would want an leather autographed copy of John Connolly's latest book?

                  Enough to support him for a year? Please. Stop drinking the infinite good TechDirt Kool-aid and think for a change.

                  And the next argument will be: well then, maybe if they can't make a living doing it then they shouldn't be writting and just get a "real" job.

                  Which just forced another writer to stop writing full time, didn't it? Which pretty much screwed up that whole "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries," thing, now didn't it?

                  I, for one, do not want my favorite authors greeting me as I walk into Walmart. I do not want them sitting in bookstores pleading for a handout. I do not want them going door-to-door looking for patrons and grants.

                  I want them to do what they do best. Write.

                  We have an admittedly imperfect system that generates hundreds of thousands of books each and every year, all on spec. I can buy any of them for a fraction of what it cost to produce them.

                  And I have yet to hear of any other "solution" that guarantees the same results.

                   

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                    Drew (profile), Oct 30th, 2009 @ 1:54am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Shocking

                    That darn Gutenburg, how dare he make it cheap and easy to make a copy of a book instead of copying the entire book by hand how will we ever sell our books to the rich if they can get the same content for less? We need to protect the scribes. Why won't you people think about the scribes and their families?

                    "How many Tom Clancy t-shirts have you purchased? How many Stephen King book signings have you PAID to attend? How many fractions of one percent would want an leather autographed copy of John Connolly's latest book?"
                    Well since I don't read Stephen King and most book signings don't stroll through my city that would be 'zero', however since they currently give the signature away for free with the purchase of a book this wouldn't really change how it is now (person buys book, stands in line, gets book signed). Now what if instead Stephen King showed up in a convention center and charged $1 for his autograph, would no one show up, would he have wasted his time and energy? I think the line would be snaking around the block, but hey what do I know. You also ask how many Tom Clancy t-shirts have I purchased, zero since I don't read his books (not my style); and how many fractions of one percent would want a leather autographed copy of John Connolly's latest book, no idea. I have a few questions for you. How many pre-order's did book seven of Harry Potter sell? How many wands, t-shirts, etc. have been sold relating to Harry Potter? If twice as many people had read the books because it was free would the sale of these item's go up or down?



                    Why couldn't the 'First Edition' books we were discussing earlier be pre-orders and shipped to the individuals who purchased them? If an author's first book was successful how high would the demand go for his second book?

                     

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                    The Infamous Joe (profile), Oct 30th, 2009 @ 7:49am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Shocking

                    Bullshit. Authors sell stories and words. Period.

                    Ice men used to sell ice. The market changed, due to technological advances in refrigeration, and now selling ice is a very small market. (e.g. Crap, I'm out of ice and have 15 people coming over in 30 minutes!) Furthermore, there are very, very few people who sell just ice.

                    While I doubt it, it could be that selling "stories and words" is no longer a self sustaining business. Many forms of art are not self sustaining, (i.e., the artists needs another source of income-- think of the poor ice sculptors!!) and it may well be that writing will end up in this category.

                    Be creative about your business model or get a new job. It sucks, but that's the way it works.

                     

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    Marcus Carab (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 10:36am

    Entitlement

    Unfortunately the concept of total ownership is so deeply ingrained in the minds of most writers, even young ones, that it seems impossible to dislodge. My novelist friend looks at me like some sort of criminal when I even slightly question the idea that he deserves to make money off of his work for the rest of his life (he is, however, opposed to the idea that copyright extends beyond his death and is passed on to his heirs)

    I try to respect his position, but I simply cannot understand the attitude of entitlement. When I ask him why content creators, unlike nearly anyone else, should be able to profit indefinitely off of past work, he has no clear answer - but he also doesn't see any reason why it should not be so.

     

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      Michael Long, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:45pm

      Re: Entitlement

      He's making an up-front investment on writing something that may or may not pan out or be rewarded at all. He's betting his time and money on the fact that it will.

      It's risk/reward formula, in that those who take risks deserve to be rewarded if (note the if), if the market feels that their work has value. Entrepreneurs do it all the time.

      You, on the other hand, may have a nine to five job that pays a nice salary and has good benefits. He has no salary and no benefits. Your risk is negliable, and your chance of a significant reward likewise.

      Further, society rewards writing a great book more than, say, a plumber fixing a faucet or some guy at McDonalds asking if you'd like fries with that.

      Only a very, very few people can do the former, practically anyone can do the later.

      And as I said above, I can't understand the attitude of "entitlement" either. Why do some people think they're somehow automatically entitled to the work of others, free of charge?

       

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        Drew (profile), Oct 30th, 2009 @ 1:03am

        Re: Re: Entitlement

        "He has no salary and no benefits"
        Except how did the author survive while writing the first book?

        "Only a very, very few people can do the former, practically anyone can do the later."
        Although this may be true would you try and fix the water main or would you call a plumber?

        Writing is a talent, much like anything else. Lets look at your eBook question from a different comment to correlate an idea; the author has almost no cost of distribution once the work is created, and doesn't need a pesky publisher-distributor-bookseller anymore, so how do they sell the book when five minutes after it is released it can be forwarded(in a DRM free environment) to anyone without having to receive it from his site? He creates 'finite' goods to sell and includes the content of the story with it, maybe if he writes with pen and paper this content is a signed page from his original version before he typed it into the computer, or maybe its the toothbrush he uses, or book readings from the author, who knows what a creative mind could come up with.

        Or, ...gasp, he writes because he enjoys it and pays his bills with a job where he makes a salary.

         

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          Michael Long, Oct 30th, 2009 @ 1:23am

          Re: Re: Re: Entitlement

          "Writing is a talent, much like anything else. ... Or, ...gasp, he writes because he enjoys it and pays his bills with a job where he makes a salary."

          You are an idiot, aren't you?

           

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            Drew (profile), Oct 30th, 2009 @ 1:27am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Entitlement

            Some people write long entries for free defending their industry, or do you get a royalty for each post you place? Your wrote it so you should be compensated for it right?

            One hopes you can recognize sarcasm.

             

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              Michael Long, Oct 30th, 2009 @ 1:43am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Entitlement

              "Your [sic] wrote it so you should be compensated for it right?"

              Only if if has value to you.

              Which it must, since you're spending so much time on it...

               

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          Michael Long, Oct 30th, 2009 @ 1:34am

          Re: Re: Re: Entitlement

          "Or, ...gasp, he writes because he enjoys it and pays his bills with a job where he makes a salary."

          Which just forced another writer to stop writing full time, didn't it? Which pretty much screwed up that whole "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries," thing, now didn't it?

          I, for one, do not want my favorite authors greeting me as I walk into Walmart. I do not want them sitting in bookstores pleading for a handout. I do not want them going door-to-door looking for patrons and grants.

          I want them to do what they do best. Write.

          We have an admittedly imperfect system that still manages to generate hundreds of thousands of books each and every year, all on spec. I can buy any of them for a fraction of what it cost to produce them.

          And I have yet to hear of any other "solution" that guarantees the same results.

          Other than ones proposed by people who seem to think they're entitled to something for nothing...

           

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            Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 30th, 2009 @ 8:34am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Entitlement

            Which just forced another writer to stop writing full time, didn't it?

            You say this as if there are a ton of full-time writers. There aren't. It's already quite difficult for most writers to do it full-time.

            If they actually embraced smart business models, more could do so. It's what we're seeing with musicians. More of them, who in the past would need day jobs, have figured out how to make a living.

            Besides, what's your alternative? Have them pretend the world isn't changing? THAT is how you actually lose full time writers.

            Why are you telling them not to change with the market? You're pushing them away from writing.

            I want them to do what they do best. Write.

            Exactly. So do we, and the way you do that is if they have better business models. The "old" model is terrible. Most book writers do not make a living doing so. Why lock them into that old model?

            We have an admittedly imperfect system that still manages to generate hundreds of thousands of books each and every year, all on spec. I can buy any of them for a fraction of what it cost to produce them.

            And how many of those authors write full time?

            And I have yet to hear of any other "solution" that guarantees the same results.

            Heh. Because *that's* the definition of progress? The exact same way it used to be? Ha!

             

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        Azrael (profile), Oct 30th, 2009 @ 1:59am

        Re: Re: Entitlement

        Let's look at my situation: i've spend a lot of time and effort to learn about computers and now i'm working full time in the pc service department of my company. You bought one of our custom machines and you managed to screw it up. I come to you fix it and you pay me.
        Now, according to your arguments, you should pay me every time you start the pc since you are using the results of my intellectual efforts, obtained by my investment in education. Do you think that's normal ?
        I don't.

         

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      Marcus Carab (profile), Oct 30th, 2009 @ 7:52am

      Re: Entitlement

      I just want to hop back in and say that I am a freelance writer and graphic designer, and no I do not have a fixed salary or any benefits to speak of. But I do not wish to "own" every article I write or image I produce for the rest of my life.

       

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    Larry Kooper, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 10:42am

    Fitzgerald's daughter died in 1986.

     

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      :Lobo Santo (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:12am

      Re:

      Way to pay attention!

      Especially to that part about... "in a trust for her children."

       

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      DCX2, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:17am

      Re:

      "Today Gatsby is read in nearly every high school and college and regularly produces $500,000 a year in [F. Scott Fitzgerald's daughter] Scottie's trust for her children."

      Scottie was her nickname. The money goes to a trust for her children, i.e. Fitzgerald's grandchildren.

       

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    moore850, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:15am

    genus and creativity need to have unique rewards

    Lots of writers keep writing but none of them produce a book that is read in high schools across the country. Surely the unique value there should go to the creator or his heirs, or do you suggest that they get nothing and that the book's price simply be reduced?

     

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      The Infamous Joe (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:29am

      Re: genus and creativity need to have unique rewards

      Surely the unique value there should go to the creator or his heirs, or do you suggest that they get nothing and that the book's price simply be reduced?

      I feel that those that do nothing, deserve nothing. Furthermore, how is this copyright promoting Fitzgerald to write new works? He's dead, after all. How did it promote the creativity of his children? How is it promoting creativity in his *grandchildren*? It's not. It's being used as welfare. Now they do not have to work or create anything, they will have a $500,000/year check coming to them.

      Without that check,his grandchildren would have no option to leach off their grandfather's creativity, and have to make it on their own merits. If they had the same level of creativity, they might feel compelled to try their hand and writing, and perhaps write another novel to be read in highschools. Extended copyrights seems to be hindering creativity in this case, rather than promoting it.

      To answer your question: Yes.

       

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      Dark Helmet (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:31am

      Re: genus and creativity need to have unique rewards

      "Lots of writers keep writing but none of them produce a book that is read in high schools across the country. Surely the unique value there should go to the creator or his heirs, or do you suggest that they get nothing and that the book's price simply be reduced?"

      ....what? I mean, truly...do you ACTUALLY believe that just because Gatsby was a GREAT novel and is still widely read that the author's GRANDCHILDREN should be gaining monetarily from it? The publisher ought to be able to make a little dough for the cost of producing the physical book (assuming they aren't eBooks), but that's about it.

      Real simple question: what did Fitzgerald's heirs do to earn the right to collect from the general public on The Great Gatsby?

       

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      DCX2, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:32am

      Re: genus and creativity need to have unique rewards

      Copyright is a mechanism to encourage content creators by providing a time-limited right to control reproduction. That is the reward for genius and creativity.

      By making copyright last for the life of the author, you discourage creating new content, because they can just grow old and fat off of a few works. By allowing heirs to inherit copyrights, you discourage the heirs from creating new content themselves.

      In other words, yes, Fitzgerald's daughter and her kids had no hand in writing that book, and therefore do not deserve the copyright.

      I will never understand why people feel that progeny deserve fortunes without investing any sort of effort on their own. I certainly wouldn't want my child to be that entitled, because they would probably turn out to be a crappy human being.

       

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        DJ (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 1:16pm

        Re: Re: genus and creativity need to have unique rewards

        "I certainly wouldn't want my child to be that entitled...."

        You hit the nail on the head there. Too many people in this country feel that, because they EXIST they are entitled to other people's earnings.

        Q: If it's not your money, where does it come from?
        A: Another PERSON. (key word being PERSON)

         

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          Michael Long, Oct 30th, 2009 @ 12:03am

          Re: Re: Re: genus and creativity need to have unique rewards

          You hit the nail on the head there. Too many people in this country feel that, because they EXIST they are entitled to other people's WORK.

          Thus they demand that all movies, books, music, software, games, and anything and everything else they can think of be given to them for free.

          They're "entitled" to it.

           

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      RVSpinX, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:36am

      Re: genus and creativity need to have unique rewards

      So do you also think that we should extend the copyright back to include the heirs of Mark Twain or Emily Dickonson? Their books also are required reading in many schools, are also in demand. The problem with what you suggest is that once the argument is made for one genius's work how do you preclude others? As noted the intent of copyright was never to provide gains to children of content creators regardless of "important" that content is.

       

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        Marcus Carab (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 1:17pm

        Re: Re: genus and creativity need to have unique rewards

        For that matter, maybe we should let governments adopt the copyright to the age-old classics: Greece will get money for every printing of Homer's epics (and can launch a lawsuit against James Joyce's heirs for profits from Ulysses), England gets King Arthur, the Danes get Beowulf, India can take the profits from the Vedas, and we'll let the Middle Eastern nations fight over the rights to Gilgamesh.

        That will surely benefit our culture!

         

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          Cymru, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 11:07am

          Re: Re: Re: genus and creativity need to have unique rewards

          King Arthur is Welsh!

           

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            Cymru, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 11:11am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: genus and creativity need to have unique rewards

            I forgot that these comments don't nest. This was in response to the notion of giving England royalties for King Arthur, that money clearly belongs a wee bit West of England. =)

             

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          wigglyworm, Feb 15th, 2011 @ 7:02pm

          Re: Re: Re: genus and creativity need to have unique rewards

          Actually, Beowulf was an English epic...

           

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      KevinJ, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:49am

      Re: genus and creativity need to have unique rewards

      Surely the unique value there should go to the creator or his heirs, or do you suggest that they get nothing and that the book's price simply be reduced?

      Did the heirs write the book that has become so well read across the country? No they didn't, and as such they don't deserve anything from it. One of Fitzgerald's grandchildren might be able to write the next literary masterpiece, but what reason do they have to try and write it? They have no (financial) reason to be a genius or creative because of the half million dollar check they get every year.

       

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      Brooks (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 12:24pm

      Re: genus and creativity need to have unique rewards

      Why are his heirs more deserving than the populace as a whole? Society, in the form of copyright laws, guaranteed Fitzgerald a time-limited exclusive right on his work in return for his energy and the risk he took in creating something that might not have been popular.

      Why should we, as a society, give his heirs a perpetual exclusive license for doing *nothing*? What value have they added that gives them any claim to alter the social contract made by Fitzgerald?

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 12:40pm

      Re: genus and creativity need to have unique rewards

      "do you suggest that they get nothing and that the book's price simply be reduced?"

      Yes!!!

       

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    geneurdd, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:21am

    Who should benefit then?

    I know this is a gray area but honestly if there is money that can still be made by its sale - then why should someone else be able to make money off someone else's work because of a copyright running out. As the article says - people still read the book - its required in some schools and therefore the demand is still there and money to be made.

     

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      Marcus Carab (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:30am

      Re: Who should benefit then?

      The point is, without copyright locking up the content, an important and influential book like this one would quickly fall to a totally negligible price, and be enjoyed by everyone.

      Booksellers could charge for new print runs of it, but they would be forced to compete with each other and the price would hit cost almost immediately. Moreover, anyone would be able to obtain a digital copy online, making the book available even in poorer schools with limited access to expensive educational materials.

      That is the whole point of having a "public domain".

       

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      The Infamous Joe (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:32am

      Re: Who should benefit then?

      why should someone else be able to make money off someone else's work because of a copyright running out

      I think someone else is already making money off of someone else's work, my friend. Unless you think one of his grandchildren time-traveled back to write the book.

       

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      DCX2, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:41am

      Re: Who should benefit then?

      You can make money without copyright, you just can't stop other people from making money, too.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:42am

      Re: Who should benefit then?

      Society should benefit by having the schools spend that money on other things, more meaningful things. If the teacher could just cheaply print of the book then why shouldn't they be able to do so? Why spend that money on a trust for the heirs?

      1925. Seriously, that's when it was published.

      "If money can be made from a thing then money should be made." Quick, start bottling air!

       

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      bigpicture, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 12:40pm

      Re: Who should benefit then?

      Are the Wright Brothers heirs still making money off the airplane invention? Is Flemings heirs still making money off penicillin invention? Then there are PCs, the Internet, Cell Phones, TVs and on an on. Unless you are actually PRODUCING these things, should you be making money off them?

      If the technology for "copying" had not been invented, then this mode of "welfare" would not have been possible. So do the inventors of the various types of "copying" technologies in existence today get their "welfare" cut. After all they have made their contributions to "culture" too, and given us useful and lasting works.

       

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      DJ (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 1:20pm

      Re: Who should benefit then?

      Why MUST someone benefit? The BEST answer is that NO ONE should actually benefit from it anymore. Publishing and printing companies should still produce copies, but at or near cost.

       

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      Brian, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 1:29pm

      Re: Who should benefit then?

      I completely agree. If the author or his heirs are not making the money, then it's going to the publisher. Why should the publisher be entitled to the full cut of the book profits when they didn't write the novel - they're getting their cut already. Just because a novel has sold a lot or been around for a long time doesn't mean suddenly it should public domain. And it's not like the book is going for the price of a new release, you can find it any any used book store for $1.

       

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        The Infamous Joe (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 1:46pm

        Re: Re: Who should benefit then?

        Just because a novel has sold a lot or been around for a long time doesn't mean suddenly it should public domain.

        That's how it works, or, used to work, back when people were less lazy.

         

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        hegemon13, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 3:33pm

        Re: Re: Who should benefit then?

        "Why should the publisher be entitled to the full cut of the book profits when they didn't write the novel..."

        Because once the book is public domain, those profits will reduce dramatically. Competition from other publishers will ensure that. Then, the public gains the primary benefit of have cheap or free access to the work.

         

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      hegemon13, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 3:30pm

      Re: Who should benefit then?

      Who should benefit? The public. Society as a whole. Those who provided copyright to Fitzgerald in the first place.

      "I know this is a gray area but honestly if there is money that can still be made by its sale - then why should someone else be able to make money off someone else's work because of a copyright running out."

      The heirs ARE "someone else"!!

      Besides that, the work SHOULD be public domain by now, which would mean that the ability to make a profit would be limited to values added by the publisher, such as study guides, special editions, etc.

       

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    Crosbie Fitch (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:55am

    What about the rest?

    Mike, don't forget that $500k is just what the publishers pass on. There may well be $5-50m that this suspension of cultural liberty is costing society (let alone external costs due to litigation), and that's after the raw materials of paper and printing have been removed.

    People are either paying this money or they are doing without the liberty to read, share or build upon these works.

    The bulk of revenue obtained via copyright is through braking cultural progress, not from incentivising it.

    It's like putting a very inefficient dynamo on a normal car to power an electric motor that supposedly increases the car's acceleration. The motor is happy (sometimes) and is indeed contributing to the vehicle's progress. The dynamo loves all the energy it's getting and will zap anyone that tries to remove it. But the car is burning a heck of a lot of fuel to obtain the same amount of progress it would without that Heath Robinson junk dragging it back. It's one big con.

     

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    Owen, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:56am

    re rewards, etc.

    SDo, for all of you people that think that copyright ownership shouldn't be passed on. How about your house or your piece of property in the Caribbean. You are fine with that becoming public property when you die?

    How about the 'secret' of the coca cola recipe? How dare they hide that from public access and stop joe schmoe's cola from making money off it.

    How about the current photo and image licensing laws for publishing?

    I'm not actually saying that the current situation is good or that these options exactly match - but I think you are focusing on the wrong part of the issue with copyright laws. In fact current copyright laws allow for the publisher to buy copyright outright. Or not buy it at all. Both options are in my opinion better than the current situation.

    In fact it is really only BOOK publishing that has this problem. Online publishers who pay for content almost universally buy the right to use the content indefinitely - and sometimes they buy exclusive rights and sometimes they don't.

    When I obtain rights to publish (yes - I am an evil publisher) I only buy NON-exclusive indefinite rights to the work in the medium I intend to publish - and for my own derivative works. I do add a non-compete clause (you can't as an author go and sell the same piece to my competitor). Author can go sell elsewhere if they want.

    But seriously, what gives you the right to read an author's material whenever you want? Absolutely nothing. And for all your talk about how evil it is that people are getting all this money, in fact authors make absolutely crap money by any standard at all.

     

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      Marcus Carab (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 12:03pm

      Re: re rewards, etc.

      in fact authors make absolutely crap money by any standard at all

      But the heirs of authors get to rake it in without doing much work by any standard at all?

       

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      Anonymous Poster, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 12:05pm

      Re: re rewards, etc.

      And for all your talk about how evil it is that people are getting all this money, in fact authors make absolutely crap money by any standard at all.

      So that gives an author's grandchildren the right to profit off of the author's work over a century later?

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 12:11pm

      Re: re rewards, etc.

      You can't make infinite copies of my house in the Caribbean.

      Not even apples and oranges, it's apples and air.

       

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      Dark Helmet (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 12:19pm

      Re: re rewards, etc.

      "SDo, for all of you people that think that copyright ownership shouldn't be passed on. How about your house or your piece of property in the Caribbean. You are fine with that becoming public property when you die?"

      Sigh, really? We're now going to compare the ownership of a physical house by your father with the limited monopoly conferred upon him by the government over a creative work? REALLY? One is a house that your father BOUGHT. The other is something that he CREATED. See how that works? You buy something that physically exists, you own it until you sell it or choose to pass it on. Copyright is an IDEA, a concept that only exists if we believe in it, like that big ugly Never Ending Story dog or whatever he was. Your analogy is so incredibly non-analogous that it doesn't make sense. Good one!

      "How about the 'secret' of the coca cola recipe? How dare they hide that from public access and stop joe schmoe's cola from making money off it."

      Okay, now you're comparing copyrights to trade secrets? Do you have ANY understanding of the topic at hand?

      "How about the current photo and image licensing laws for publishing?"

      What about them? If they last too long, do away with them. What is too long? For creative works? 2-3 years ought to work. Then public domain. If you can't create something new within 2-3 years or figure out how to otherwise monetize your creation, then whose fault is that?

      "In fact it is really only BOOK publishing that has this problem. Online publishers who pay for content almost universally buy the right to use the content indefinitely - and sometimes they buy exclusive rights and sometimes they don't."

      I'm a bit confused as to what you mean here, so I don't want to jump down your throat, but in the case of fiction publishing you're super duper wrong. Fiction contracts for ePublishers and tradtional dead tree publishers vary very little...as in almost not at all. In neither case does the publisher "buy copyright outright". Never. EVER! In fact, most publisher contracts and author submission FAQs go out of their way to state that the author retains all copyright on his or her work. Also, I've never seen nor heard of a contract that allowed the publisher exclusive rights to publish indefinitely. Standard terms are usually between 4 and 7 years, the later being exceedingly rare.

      "When I obtain rights to publish (yes - I am an evil publisher)"

      Interesting. I'd be very interested in getting a look at your standard publishing contract and where it includes some of the things you and I are disagreeing on. I certainly don't close the door to being wrong, but I've stared at a great deal of submission pages and sample contracts.

      "But seriously, what gives you the right to read an author's material whenever you want?"

      Have you heard of the concept of the public domain. What do you think the ultimate purpose and value of culture is? And again, what gives the heirs of long dead authors the right to collect money on long ago written works while exerting no effort? At the detriment of school budgets? How does that make ANY sense?

      "And for all your talk about how evil it is that people are getting all this money, in fact authors make absolutely crap money by any standard at all."

      That's a hell of a statement, coming from a PUBLISHER. Who in the world do you work for?

       

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        Belle de Monarch, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 1:24pm

        Re: Re: re rewards, etc.

        Thankyou DH, at least you have sense here! - for goodness sake, how is copyright different to any other form of making money off a product that is produced over and over and sold accordingly! You name any product, and the inventor (if they patented their product properly) will receive a portion of the sale forever and ever amen, and/or the company who owns the product will do them same. So will the publisher of any book that is produced that owns those publishing rights. It is not a mode of welfare to pay for the right to reproduce and sell a product (in this instance a book), just like a song or a Tupperware container or an iphone; it is a fair and equitable exchange of money for the right to own someone's intellectual product!
        In fact dare I say more so for the book writer - maybe I'm a little romantic, but you can spit out an iphone off the production line in a matter of minutes, writing a book/poetry/script/play takes a little piece of the writer's soul - we SHOULD be paying for it as this is a special gift not just anyone can do that will obviously outlive the person who wrote it.

         

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          Marcus Carab (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 1:29pm

          Re: Re: Re: re rewards, etc.

          How can you equate manufacturing one iPhone to writing a novel? Manufacturing one iPhone is the same as printing one novel. Writing a novel must be compared to designing and developing the iPhone, which required countless hours of work by extremely skilled and talented people (even if it's less "romantic" in your view)

          I am not replying to your broader point, because I think you totally misunderstood DH, and I will leave that to him to sort out. But your comparison of writing a book to manufacturing one iPhone is specious.

           

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          Dark Helmet (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 1:32pm

          Re: Re: Re: re rewards, etc.

          Re: Belle de Monarch

          While you have possibly the 2nd greatest handle name I've seen here on TechDirt, it seems fairly obvious that you didn't read what I wrote....like at all. What I wrote appears to disagree with just about 100% of what you wrote.

           

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          DJ (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 1:32pm

          Re: Re: Re: re rewards, etc.

          You're right. We should be paying for the works of "the writer's soul". But we should be paying the WRITER, and ONLY the writer (yes, yes, the publishing and printing companies need to make a profit, too, but that's not a point of contention).

          The point you have completely glossed over, is that the heirs of Fitzgerald have done NOTHING to deserve any compensation whatsoever for his works.

          NOTHING!!!!

           

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            Dark Helmet (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 1:36pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: re rewards, etc.

            "The point you have completely glossed over, is that the heirs of Fitzgerald have done NOTHING to deserve any compensation whatsoever for his works."

            Well, they did breast stroke their way outside of Mama Fitzgerald's vagina...but yeah, other than that, not a whole lot...

             

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      Richard (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 3:50pm

      Re: re rewards, etc.

      SDo, for all of you people that think that copyright ownership shouldn't be passed on. How about your house or your piece of property in the Caribbean. You are fine with that becoming public property when you die?


      It's OK for a modest inheritance of (say) a house to be passed on - it provides some continuity to a family - and provided it's on a modest scale does no damage to the community. However a large fortune should not be passed on.

      I saw Warren Buffet making that point last night on the BBC. His son and daughter were quite happy with that. In fact his son gave up the possibility of a large fortune from his mother's inheritance in order to pursue his passion for a career in music (see people don't do that for the money after all).

      We use inheritance tax (death duties) to stop large fortunes from being passed on. However copyrights dodge that tax - unlike all other assets - that is the problem.

       

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        Nebel, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 4:45pm

        Re: Re: re rewards, etc.

        I have never heard one legitimate reason for the death tax to exist. Please explain how a person working hard or being lucky, and leaving a large sum of money or property to their heirs is wrong? What right does the public have to the cash/property?

         

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          Drew (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:01pm

          Re: Re: Re: re rewards, etc.

          An even better question is what right does the government/people have to double-tax the property and assets? Weren't they taxed when they made their fortune?

           

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    Gary Kilroy, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 12:11pm

    People should earn from their work but why is it that only "artists" demand these earnings pass onto their children. If you look at people who invent the patents they are granted only last for a maximum of 20-25 years what is the difference between inventing say dyson vacuum cleaner and writing a novel or song?

     

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      DJ (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 1:26pm

      Re:

      Heh. We cover patents here, too. And most of us don't like 'em either.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 2:08pm

      Re:

      The problem with patents is that they assume that all innovation requires a patent to advance. This simply is not true. A lot of innovation has advanced without patents in the past. But today all innovation is assumed by the patent office to require a patent. However, without patents advancement will still occur.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 1:10pm

    Seems like the numbers a misleading as they are not adjusted for inflation. Its like saying that my grandfather never spent more than $1.25 to fill his car with gas and now I pay over $3.00 per gallon. If it wasn't for those oil profit maximists we'd still be paying $0.10 per gallon, right? Not.

    I do not think that copyright is working, the grandchildren should be doing their own work. However, comparing yesterday's prices and yesterday's sales volumes with today's is a bit unrealistic.

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 2:19pm

      Re:

      Seems like the numbers a misleading as they are not adjusted for inflation. Its like saying that my grandfather never spent more than $1.25 to fill his car with gas and now I pay over $3.00 per gallon. If it wasn't for those oil profit maximists we'd still be paying $0.10 per gallon, right? Not.

      I do not think that copyright is working, the grandchildren should be doing their own work. However, comparing yesterday's prices and yesterday's sales volumes with today's is a bit unrealistic.


      The article itself does adjust for inflation, and it's still ridiculous.

       

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    goexplore, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 1:14pm

    rewards, etc.

    I'm happy that F. Scott Fitzgerald spent his time writing the book so that he and his heirs could benefit and we could all enjoy reading it. It's a great book.

    Authors and creators of IP all need to make a living and provide for their families. If you take that away from them they might go find something else more profitable to do and then you won't get to enjoy the fruits of their labours.

    I think anyone in North America who wants to read The Great Gatsby can afford to buy a copy or visit a library and borrow it for free. The price of the paperback is not really a barrier to enjoying this work.

    (No I'm not a publisher or author)

     

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      Marcus Carab (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 1:25pm

      Re: rewards, etc.

      If Fitzgerald wanted to provide for his heirs, he should have amassed a physical estate to pass on to them. You have still not explained why they deserve continuing income because of his work.

      Copyright is also means a lot more than just going to a library to get the work. We are talking about schools that want to supply entire classes, for one thing. We're also not just talking about North America. And moreover, copyright isn't just about reading either - it often hinders and sometimes even completely stymies people who want to make adaptations and derivations of the work.

      If you take that away from them they might go find something else more profitable to do and then you won't get to enjoy the fruits of their labours.

      I'd be willing to make you a bet on that one. I mean, do you honestly think that when Fitzgerald sat down to write Gatsby, he did so because he was thinking "I'm glad my daughter can someday make half-a-million bucks a year for this, otherwise I'd go be a carpenter." ?

       

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        goexplore, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 4:06pm

        Re: Re: rewards, etc.

        I'd be willing to make you a bet on that one. I mean, do you honestly think that when Fitzgerald sat down to write Gatsby, he did so because he was thinking "I'm glad my daughter can someday make half-a-million bucks a year for this, otherwise I'd go be a carpenter." ? Literally maybe not, but conceptually a lot of us are capitalists and place the interests of our own above those of others. I've written software and given it away. I do non-profit work, probably way more than my share. Could I do more? maybe if I had more time because I didn't have to hold down another job. Could it be brilliant? maybe (I know you're not holding your breath) but I've got bills to pay, mouths to feed and money doesn't grow on trees. (I'm infringing on someone's copyright using those words I know I know) FSF could have done whatever he wanted with his book earnings or potential earnings (by selling all the rights). I don't see the difference between turning it into a physical asset and milking it over time to receive physical assets. If he'd given it all to charity none of you would be complaining. If you are on here using a computer chances are not that you started with nothing but the skin on your back. Your parents used their income and savings to nurture you, educate you, maybe get you started in life. Their parents did the same for them. The nerve! As for Anonymous Coward's comments about free market, the schools and everyone else are welcome to go find another book to teach. Apparently the cost of the book has not deterred them from selecting another option. Sounds like a free market to me.

         

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          Marcus Carab (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 4:47pm

          Re: Re: Re: rewards, etc.

          You are taking my point beyond what I said. I am not talking about philanthropy or simple artistic drive (although I do believe those things play a major role in the production of art). I am not saying that artists are not/should not pursue a profit for their works.

          My point is that it is questionable that they can profit off of one work for their entire lives, and absolutely ridiculous that their heirs can continue profiting after they die.

          Remember, it's not real ownership. There is absolutely no way to stop people from copying someone's words, only ways to punish them for doing so in the hopes of discouraging the practice. We as a society enter into an agreement to allow creators certain rights. But part of that agreement is what we demand in return: a rich and accessible culture, all of which becomes public property after a reasonable time. After all, the moment the words go on paper they become public property - after all, nobody can unread something...

          I realize I'm crudely paraphrasing Jefferson at this point so I will direct you to this book: http://yupnet.org/boyle/archives/31

          Read the first two chapters at least.

           

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            Marcus Carab (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 4:49pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: rewards, etc.

            similarly (and unfortunately) I can't unwrite my weird double use of "after all" in that comment

             

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            Derek Kerton (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 6:24pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: rewards, etc.

            Agreeing with Marcus.

            Listen, goexplore, the NATURAL equation is that once a story is out there, it's an idea and words that can immediately be copied, re-used, re-told by anyone. Words and ideas are are free, freely copied, and don't reduce the author's ability to continue to use the words. Think of Grok the caveman storyteller. He invents a good story, tells it, and then everyone he told is free to repeat it. He may tell it better, he may be famous for it, he may be popular because he continues to come up with great stories, but he COULD NOT prevent others from telling his stories.

            So, as a society, we weren't completely happy with that status quo. We figured that we want more art, and authors should be encouraged to produce good art. We could create an ARTIFICIAL incentive with laws that reduced the natural copy-ability of ideas and words. The artificial incentive we created and made policy and law is coypright.

            We originally saw that copyright was a blight on the "public domain" concept that humans had lived with for 399,850 years of our 400,000 years of human existence. So the policymakers tried to decide what period of exclusive control, or monopoly, would be suitable to give authors an incentive to create. No sane person believes this number needs to be longer than the life of the author - yet it has been extended multiple times since first introduced.

            Many people living now accept copyright as the "way of the world". Perhaps it is useful to understand that for 99.96% of human history that was NOT the way of the world. Copyright is an ARTIFICIAL distortion of human expression, a limitation on the natural way we share and extend ideas. It creates monopoly, which is known to be an undesired aberration of a free market that produces sub-optimal economic outcomes. There is a social cost to locking down stories and ideas, and in very limited circumstances, society should agree to pay that cost for a short period of copyright.

             

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 2:18pm

      Re: rewards, etc.

      "If you take that away from them they might go find something else more profitable to do and then you won't get to enjoy the fruits of their labours."

      First of all a lot of works are created under creative commons licenses (ie: see creativecommons.org ) and the purpose of creative commons is to alleviate the effects of intellectual property. Heck, you are the author of this post and we aren't paying you for it. So to say that works would not be created without copyright is nonsense.

      However, you fail to realize that the free market is best suited to allocate resources. Monopolies are a distortion of the free market. For the government to play job favoritism by favoring one career over another distorts the free market in a way that's only bad for the economy. I discuss this more here

      http://www.techdirt.com/article.php?sid=20091014%2F0147596522&threaded=true&sp=1#com ments

      See post "Oct 18th, 2009 @ 5:18pm"

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 2:25pm

        Re: Re: rewards, etc.

        In other words, I would rather that person find something more profitable because that more profitable thing is more relevant to what the free market needs. For the government to distort the free market by taking away people from things that are more relevant to what the free market needs and to make them write books, etc... only serves to hinder those goods and services that are more relevant to what people want. Not saying that writing books and such is not important, but if the market for that is already being satisfied (ie: many people write books and create works under creative commons licenses so even without intellectual property there will be no shortage of works) to the point that something else is more important to current market needs and hence is more profitable in a free market then society is better off if that person serves a greater market need instead of subsidizing book writing with monopolies that take away from more relevant market needs.

         

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    Ryan, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 1:27pm

    Daughter Gets $500,000 Per Year From It

    Why should the publisher be the only one to profit after the writer passes on? I believe in a person's legacy.

     

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      DJ (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 1:37pm

      Re: Daughter Gets $500,000 Per Year From It

      Again, I contend that once a copyright lapses, either by time or the death of the author, that NO ONE should make a profit off the works.

      If the publisher wants to continue printing, then a pittance, perhaps, just for their trouble of printing it. But that's it.

       

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        Dark Helmet (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 1:42pm

        Re: Re: Daughter Gets $500,000 Per Year From It

        "Again, I contend that once a copyright lapses, either by time or the death of the author, that NO ONE should make a profit off the works."

        You're going to lose a ton of great works of fiction that way. Like the Bible, for instance. Restricting trade and profit isn't the answer either. Publishers can produce physical copies all they want and sell them to me for whatever they choose, but they can't limit my copying of it...

         

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          The Infamous Joe (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 1:50pm

          Re: Re: Re: Daughter Gets $500,000 Per Year From It

          Any book that has an almighty being sending bears to kill children because they made fun of an old man should be a best-seller for all eternity in my book.

           

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            DJ (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 1:56pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Daughter Gets $500,000 Per Year From It

            Ah sweet ignorance, I love it so.....

             

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            Dark Helmet (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 1:57pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Daughter Gets $500,000 Per Year From It

            "Any book that has an almighty being sending bears to kill children because they made fun of an old man should be a best-seller for all eternity in my book."

            Like I always tell people, how lucky are we that the Bible says that man has domain over all animals? I mean, what if God had decided to give it instead to, oh I don't know, howler monkeys? Here we'd have a book that we could read, and the howler monkeys couldn't, and we'd have to acknowledge that the howler monkeys own our asses and we'd have to spend tons of time trying to figure out what the hell they want us to do for them.

            So there we'd be, desperately trying to please the howler monkeys with all manner of food, clothing, trinkets, and sacrifice while they'd simply be flinging more and more feces in our faces, humping us every chance they got, and generally acting like...well, you know...MONKEYS!

            So we should all thank our makers for the coincidence that not only do we WRITE the Bible, but we're also given power over the animals by it. Thank God for that COINCIDENCE. Otherwise, you'd be cleaning monkey jizz out of your eye right now.

            Arrogant ass old testament....

             

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          DJ (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 1:54pm

          Re: Re: Re: Daughter Gets $500,000 Per Year From It

          I should clarify. By "no one" I mean that literally; no one person, e.g. Fitzgerald's heirs.

           

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    Richard (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 1:29pm

    My gut reaction to heirs getting royalties on creative content is to agree with most posters here that it is wrong. And then I started to think about how different that really is to normal in inheritance. If I make clever investments, such that they produce an income for myself and mine to live off and then pass this on to my children, then they have effectively done nothing to earn this "welfare" they are now being paid. I have no problem with this, and would love to be able to pass on just this kind of legacy to my children. So I began to think "maybe you're just a hypocrite". In my case I have invested money to provide an income for my children. In the case discussed here, Fitzgerald invested time and creativity to provide an income for his children.

     

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      Marcus Carab (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 1:34pm

      Re:

      Once again, it's the difference between property and non-property. Authors are free to leave the profits from their books to their heirs, but the ownership of the books themselves?

      We need to take this back to base principles and remember: copyright is an unnatural thing. That doesn't necessarily mean its a bad thing, but it is entirely manufactured: without the agreement of government and society, there is NO copyright, and NO simulated ownership of infinite goods.

      So the question is, how much simulated ownership is too much? Approaching it from the other direction, imagining that this ownership is natural and deciding how much to give up, is re-framing the debate in a way that doesn't actually make any sense.

       

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      DJ (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 1:50pm

      Re:

      "think about how different that really is to normal in inheritance"

      OK ok, since so many of you can't grasp the concept that copyright royalties and normal inheritance really COMPLETELY different, let's go ahead and compare them.

      Q: If you have $1M, and you leave it to your children, what did they inherit?
      A: $1,000,000,000. Duh

      Q: If you write a book, and leave that story to your children, what did they inherit?
      A: A freaking story! Words!

      Unless you are talented enough to put them together in such a way that entices people to buy them, words are completely WORTHLESS.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 2:32pm

    Whiner

    Sounds a lot like whining to me. You should be more concerned with creating something yourself than envying another's good fortune - if you focused on that perhaps you too could accomplish something. Or are you just one of those entitlement mentality types that you feel you have the right to free access to someone else’s work?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 3:47pm

      Re: Whiner

      1926. Seriosuly. It very well should belong in the public domain.

      Artistic works are ultimately a gift to the world. Having an organization who has no relation to the artist whatsoever collecting money off of a work WRITTEN IN 1926 IS FRIVILOUS!!!

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 3:50pm

      Re: Whiner

      Technically a lot of these articles are considered to be works. So mike is creating something himself.

       

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    AnonCow, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 5:26pm

    If he had made more money while alive, Zelda would have just pissed it away...I'm sure he would be pleased that it went to his offspring, not his shrew of a wife.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 10:45pm

    if your grandpa had written something 80 years back that was still sending half a million your way every year, would you say no to it? this is just sheer jealousy at work here.

     

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    catullusrl, Oct 30th, 2009 @ 4:05am

    Masnick obviously knows very little about Gatsby. When the book was first published it was a commercial failure and only considered a classic decades later. It's a poor example to cite in an argument against copyright.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Gatsby
    Check out the section on the book's reception

     

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    Paul, Oct 30th, 2009 @ 4:31am

    Publishers

    So, everyone is OK with the publisher still making money off the dead guy's work, but his heirs should get nothing?

     

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      Car analogy, Oct 30th, 2009 @ 5:19am

      Re: Publishers

      So, everyone is ok with used car salesmen making money off of used cars, but the heirs of its builder get nothing?

       

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    Andrew D. Todd, Oct 30th, 2009 @ 9:25am

    The Great Gatsby Is Not So Valuable Without Government Intervention.

    Everyone seems to proceed on the basis that The Great Gatsby is uniquely valuable. It isn't, of course. It just happens to be institutionalized in the way high schools teach, and probably, to a lesser degree in standard college entrance exams. It is a curious observation that high school teachers read very little, considering their job, and they read still less outside of their comfort zone, still less of the kinds of books which are conventionally approved for teaching in English class. In college, education students are notoriously passive. They want to be taught how to read and teach particular books, and they aren't comfortable being told to solve problems by themselves. This means that they tend to "lock in" on a handful of books and authors," generally those literary works which have been made into movies. The worst sort of teacher really likes showing movies, because every movie is an hour or two which he does not have to teach. Good teachers, on the other hand, tend to ride their hobbyhorses, and assign books which are not on the standard official reading lists.

    http://northport.k12.ny.us/~nphs/english%20college.htm

    This reminds me of a conversation I had with my father the philosophy professor, circa 1980, in the time before the internet. He wanted to set up an assignment for a freshman logic course in which students would read a novel, and then express the plot in terms of formal logic, ie. X causes Y, etc., in effect, to write a kind of computer program describing the plot of the book. So the first thing he needed to do was to find a novel by a respectable "literary" author which was obscure enough that there was no Cliff's Notes pamphlet for that title, and the students would actually be obliged to read the book. As I recall, my father settled on one of the minor works of Aldous Huxley. Of course, by the next term, the fraternities and sororities would have the assignment on file in their private libraries of crib sheets, but my father could easily repeat the switch, to some other "under-appreciated" book, and so on, ad infinitum. The logic of his position meant that he had to stay one jump ahead of Cliff's Notes in discovering obscure novels. Of course, before the internet, he was limited to books which were in print, and could be obtained in reasonable quantities without too much difficulty.

    That, I suppose, is the difference between high school and college.

    The Fitzgerald estate is not trying to capitalize on market demand in any normally understood sense. It is trying to capitalize on the coercive power of the state, as represented by the compulsory school attendance laws, etc., in much the same way that Microsoft seeks to hijack the power of the state to require one kind of word processor instead of another kind of word processor. Of course, this is nothing new. _The Great Gatsby_ was commercially unsuccessful until the government gave away a hundred and fifty thousand copies to GI's during the Second World War, in much the same spirit that it issued K-Rations, the predecessors of MRE's. Left to their own devices, most of these young men would not have chosen to read books, but it was not expedient to allow them to get drunk, and some alternative amusement had to be provided. What it comes down to is that there is no right to be given a government contract. It would be no very big deal for the schools to shift to pre-1923 literary books, which are out of copyright anyway. In that case, the Fitzgerald estate would have no recourse.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Gatsby

     

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    MickP, Oct 30th, 2009 @ 11:32am

    Who's really whining?

    If F. Scott's heirs aren't getting the money, who would? The publishers, who are already taking a bigger cut. Writers should continue to earn off their works if the work is bought. Most writers don't earn continual income from their work and F. Scott (not one of my personal favorites) is clearly an exception, not the rule.

    If my work made that kind of money, I'd rather my daughter and my future grandkids have it, especially if I'm not around to spend it all.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 30th, 2009 @ 4:04pm

    Hypocrisy Overload!

    I try to respect his position, but I simply cannot understand the attitude of entitlement. When I ask him why content creators, unlike nearly anyone else should be able to profit indefinitely off of past work, he has no clear answer

    Any business that sells identical copies of its wares is, as you put it, profiting indefinitely off of past work, and the owners of these businesses make money per copy sold, the horror! The horror!

    We need to take this back to base principles

    The base principle is exactly what you're ignoring. You (and others) keep harping on the fact that these descendants don't "DESERVE" the fruits of their dad's or grandpa's labor -- and I agree. But how is inheriting money or a house or a car any different? That fact that those things are tangible does not make the inheritors any more deserving or entitled than it would otherwise.

    I know this is a gray area but honestly if there is money that can still be made by its sale - then why should someone else be able to make money off someone else's work because of a copyright running out.

    Because that's what TechDirt preaches! Parasitism is good! The more parasites and counterfeiters in a market, the better! Quantity = quality.

    Without that check,his grandchildren would have no option to leach off their grandfather's creativity, and have to make it on their own merits.

    You could say this about ANYONE born into wealth or into daddy's business. I wonder how many people in this very thread have trust funds? My guess is that there's more than a few silver spoon hypocrites here.

    Real simple question: what did Fitzgerald's heirs do to earn the right to collect from the general public on The Great Gatsby?

    Real simple counter-question: What did ANY heirs do to earn the right to ANY of their inheritance?

    By making copyright last for the life of the author, you discourage creating new content, because they can just grow old and fat off of a few works. By allowing heirs to inherit copyrights, you discourage the heirs from creating new content themselves.

    "Starving artist = productive artist" fallacy. As someone else mentioned, name the top earners in any artistic field and you will likely see the opposite of what you are claiming here. Additionally, it is a rather deplorable position immediately bringing to mind visions of shuffling, bent-back, indentured servants. The fact that some of the greatest artists throughout history lived poverty-stricken lives is, to me, a goddamn shame. You seem think it's a collectively "optimal" situation that artists should be poor which immediately helps you to resemble a giant, puckered asshole who doesn't so much "voice" his opinions as he does "expel" them to the detriment of everyone nearby.

    And why don't we apply this strategy to ALL workers? Why don’t we increase taxes across the board so everyone has to work more hours or take up a second job? If it’s appropriate to use the law to pressure content creators to create more, why not use the law to make EVERYONE more productive? Surely, it would be good for the economy and lead to more innovation in all fields if people had less free time?

    it is entirely manufactured: without the agreement of government and society, there is NO copyright, and NO simulated ownership of infinite goods.

    ALL property laws are entirely manufactured and dependent upon societal and governmental agreements so what exactly is your point here?

    There may well be $5-50m that this suspension of cultural liberty is costing society

    "Suspension of cultural liberty"?

    WTF?

    I think Crosbie smokes more weed than everyone else on this site COMBINED.

    Put down the bong...dude.

    Essentially a publisher purchases from the author the right to produce a book first, after the initial production and the book is delivered to stores it is now in the public domain and can be published by anyone if they so choose

    LOL!

    It would seem you have a firm grasp on how to lose a lot of money very efficiently. You should be writing articles for Techdirt, not commenting on them!

    You, on the other hand, may have a nine to five job that pays a nice salary and has good benefits. He has no salary and no benefits. Your risk is negligible, and your chance of a significant reward likewise.

    Exactly!

    Further, society rewards writing a great book more than, say, a plumber fixing a faucet or some guy at McDonalds asking if you'd like fries with that.

    Only a very, very few people can do the former, practically anyone can do the later.


    Exactly!

    I, for one, do not want my favorite authors greeting me as I walk into Walmart. I do not want them sitting in bookstores pleading for a handout. I do not want them going door-to-door looking for patrons and grants.

    You don't? You must be a shill, then! You must be a troll! You must be anti-technology! You must be a greedy corporate pig! etc etc etc

    The "old" model is terrible. Most book writers do not make a living doing so. Why lock them into that old model?

    No one's locking them into that old model. They've always been able to release their works for free and sell ancillary gimmicks. Most of them realized that approach would not make them the most money and chose to go the traditional route. To many of the top earners, your model is terrible. Why do you want to lock them in to your new model?

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 30th, 2009 @ 4:34pm

      Re: Hypocrisy Overload!

      You could say this about ANYONE born into wealth or into daddy's business. I wonder how many people in this very thread have trust funds? My guess is that there's more than a few silver spoon hypocrites here.

      Well, I don't have a trust fund, but inheriting money already earned is totally different than getting a right to get future money earned from work done by a parent. I don't see why that's difficult to understand.

      If a parent dies, do the kids keep getting that parents paycheck in perpetuity? Of course not. So why is it that way with copyright?

       

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      Marcus Carab (profile), Oct 30th, 2009 @ 5:20pm

      Re: Hypocrisy Overload!

      No one's locking them into that old model. They've always been able to release their works for free and sell ancillary gimmicks.

      The argument that something has "always" been possible is not very compelling during the biggest revolution in content distribution since the printing press.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 30th, 2009 @ 6:58pm

    The hypocrisy continues...

    inheriting money already earned is totally different than getting a right to get future money earned from work done by a parent. I don't see why that's difficult to understand."

    I don't see why it's difficult for you to explain, then! In neither case does the heir DESERVE that money, in neither case did the heir do anything to EARN that money. The tangibility of someone's inheritance has exactly NOTHING to do with the UNEARNED, UNDESERVING nature of ALL inheritance.

    If a parent dies, do the kids keep getting that parents paycheck in perpetuity? Of course not. So why is it that way with copyright?

    Lots of people inherit family businesses that they don't personally help run, content to stay at home and cash the checks that other people earned. You think situations like this are the sole domain of heirs who inherit a copyright? Don't be ridiculous. The vast, vast, vast, majority of copyrights are WORTHLESS from inception let alone 70 years later. The exceptions to this are so few they're arguably not even worth talking about. As usual, you try to turn the micro into the macro and make it seem like there's some epidemic of artist-heirs milking their dead grandfathers. Similarly, even with the estate tax there are people who inherit WAAAAAAAAY more money than Fitzgerald's progeny ever will.

    But since THOSE PEOPLE received it from daddy in a lump sum, it's perfectly fine, perfectly deserved, and perfectly earned, right?

    Wrong.


    The argument that something has "always" been possible is not very compelling during the biggest revolution in content distribution since the printing press.

    My argument was there is no "locking" mechanism at work here. Any artist is free to choose whichever distribution path they prefer. Copyright supporters don't want to take away people's rights to release their work under creative commons. They don't want to stop people from using their art as a loss leader for cheap gimmicks. ON THE OTHER HAND, Mike, and many of his supporters DO WANT TO abolish copyright or at least neuter it into irrelevancy thereby LOCKING content creators into his (not really new) model, which despite claims to the contrary will drastically reduce the revenue (and conceivably, the incentive) for many or most of today's (and tomorrow's) top echelon of artists.

    Furthermore, you are the LAST person that should be proclaiming how compelling another commentator's arguments are, with the possible exception of Crosbie who is undoubtedly wandering some desert right now, high out of his mind on peyote, fever-dreaming up new bits of drug-addled gibberish to post on Techdirt, discussing his collectivist theories with the cacti, and trying to convince the scorpions and snakes to help him crowdsource new superflous interpretations of one's "right to liberty" until it becomes a useless umbrella term for literally anything anyone wishes to assert a "right to".

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2011 @ 6:00am

    C'mon folks, Isn't it better to hand the copyrights over to an heir, than to fatten the greedy coffers of a publishing mogul?? What's the debate here really, if you die, would you rather your home be left to your child, or just handed over to the bank.

     

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    Liza, Dec 19th, 2011 @ 8:36am

    Royalties

    This argument seems a little skewed. Fitzgerald is a one of the very rare authors in the world who can command such royalties. Most authors I know make little more than 5,000 on sales of their books throughout their lifetime. If you do not offer these people some sort of incentive, it is unlikely the most brilliant of these writers, i.e. the ones like Fitzgerad, will produce anything of literay value. Many best-sellers, as we well know, do not have high literary value and thus, fail to act as both a moral and spiritual compas for our society--or would you prefer the children in school to read Johnny Farts across the farting field==something written by an author who can constantly "produce" a best-seller and "earn" their keep?

     

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    Liza, Dec 19th, 2011 @ 8:36am

    Royalties

    This argument seems a little skewed. Fitzgerald is a one of the very rare authors in the world who can command such royalties. Most authors I know make little more than 5,000 on sales of their books throughout their lifetime. If you do not offer these people some sort of incentive, it is unlikely the most brilliant of these writers, i.e. the ones like Fitzgerad, will produce anything of literay value. Many best-sellers, as we well know, do not have high literary value and thus, fail to act as both a moral and spiritual compas for our society--or would you prefer the children in school to read Johnny Farts across the farting field==something written by an author who can constantly "produce" a best-seller and "earn" their keep?

     

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    Rhemy, May 12th, 2013 @ 10:18am

    What I don't get is if your dad builds you a house, you get to keep the house and profit from it. But when he spends his time writing a book suddenly he shouldn't be able to leave that to his kids. It's fitzgeralds art. He didn't create it for the American public.

     

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