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.