Re: attn. JMS: A TV writing question...

 Posted on 6/29/2003 by to

>Can anyone seriously conceive of writers or musicians deciding that they
>aren't going to write or perform any longer because the copyright won't last
>more than fifty years beyond their deaths? Writers write because it's what
>they want to do. Musicians compose and perform because they love to.
>Painters paint and sculpters sculpt, again, because it's what they want to
>do. To put the question to JMS -- Joe, would you cease your writing if the
>duration of copyright were only fifteen years, renewable once?

No...but you're not getting the crucial point.

Residuals, and royalties, are part of a writer's compensation for the work he
does. They're not a bonus, they're part of his (or her) compensation. It may
take a novelist five years to write a given novel. The money he earns from
that book covers the down-time between that project and the next one.

Writing is a notoriously ill-paying profession, and it is not especially
gracious on aging writers. So a writer's only chance for income past a certain
age is the royalties he's built up on prior works.

If those works become public domain after ten or fifteen years, he can no
longer make a living from those books. Will that writer stop writing when
younger because of that issue? No, of course not.

Will that writer be able to *survive* financially if the rights to public after
a while?

In most cases, the answer to that questino is no.

We're not talking corporations here, we're talkling writers who, in a lifetime,
may turn out maybe five, ten really good books, in the hope that the royalties
from those books will help to keep them alive in their golden years.

So many of those writers may have to take other jobs to survive, limiting their
ability to write, and hence their output. Or, if they cannot take othe work --
writers are notoriously poor employees -- more of them may have to survive in
serious poverty than before.


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