Fifty Six Years, Fitzgerald, Three Thousand discussed on Planet Money

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In nineteen twenty five. F scott fitzgerald published the great gatsby and like pretty much every author. He copyrighted the book when it came out which you know fair enough the way copyright worked at the time fitzgerald and his heirs could collect royalties from the book for fifty six years. All the way until nineteen eighty-one and during that time if anybody wanted to make movie or play or anything at all based on gatsby they would have to get permission and probably pay a licensing fee to the fitzgerald family. And then according to the law after the fifty six years the book would go into something called the public domain fitzgerald's kids or grandkids wouldn't get royalties any more and more importantly anyone who wanted to could print up and give away copies of the book or rewrite it from toms horses. Point of view or create gatsby on ice anything at all and you know copyright. Is this balancing. Act on the one hand you want to encourage and reward people who write books create things but you also want to let those things enter the public domain at some point so we can all share them and tweak them and build on them and make more creative stuff. The artists figuring out how long to keep something in copyright there was nothing special about fifty six years. That's just a number that congress picked and then they decided to change it in nineteen seventy six just five years before the great gatsby entered the public domain. Five years before gatsby on ice congress changed copyright law. They said among other things fifty six years not quite long enough under the new stronger rules. Gatsby wouldn't go into the public domain until two thousand one and then just a few years before that congress jumped in again and made copies of old works last even longer under the new new rules. Gas would not go into the public domain until almost one hundred years after it was written until twenty twenty one but still sounds like some meat up year from the future to me. And you know congress could have kept pushing this date making the copyright longer and longer until the three thousand or something like that but there's been some pushback on the ever lengthening copyright period. Not enough pushback to start making the copyright shorter but enough to stop making them longer and so on january first of this year. Finally the great gatsby went into the public domain into our domain. It belongs to us now. It belongs to everybody. And what we now own i have to say is a complicated book. It has the romance and beauty of america. It also has the racism and misogyny and anti semitism of america and maybe the most american thing about the.

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