J.D Salinger died today.
He was 93.
He was a writer; his claim to fame was the classic “The Catcher in the Rye“.
One good definition of the word “classic”, is “A book that people praise but never read“. I have never read any of his work, and I have no intention of doing so anytime soon.
So why the need to write an obituary? Simple. Now that he is no longer with us, it is time for “catcher in the Rye” and the rest of his work to take its place along with the like of Mark Twain, Jack London, Earnest Hemingway and Herman Melville In the pantheon of our culture known as the public domain.
But it won’t. Not for a while, anyway; under current law, copyright on books lasts for the life of the author plus seventy years – so “The Catcher in the Rye” will pass into the public domain on January 1, 2071“.
The purpose of copyright was to reward creative people enough to keep them creative, to provide them with enough reward for them to do more, but not enough to make them do nothing. For the next seventy years, however, who will receive the royalties?
Who benefits from such ridiculously long copyright terms?
This song is Copyrighted in U.S.,
under Seal of Copyright #154085,
for a period of 28 years,
and anybody caught singin’ it
without our permission,
will be mighty good friends of ourn,
cause we don’t give a darn.
Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it.
We wrote it, that’s all we wanted to do.
— Woody Guthrie