Copyright lasts 70 years past the author’s death.
This idea intrigues and bedevils me.
For most people, your work provides for the needs of the world today–and often the foundation upon which future work will be built. This is true of janitors and CEOs, nurses and engineers. You are part of Project Humanity.
For a famous few, your work rises to that 70 year horizon, where people are actively consuming it or using it a hundred or more years later–the equation for a spring (F=kx Hooke’s Law 342 years old) or the moon landing (which continues to inspire, 49 years old).
In the realm of art, your work had to rise to that famous level or essentially be forgotten. This was especially true of books which required publishers to continue to print them. I used to marvel at the 100 year old paper copies in my university library… but I didn’t read them (except a page or two).
There are few non-art, non-famous people whose work endures (not including all parents because obviously). Architects come to mind–their buildings may continue to please and function a hundred years later. Or they may get torn down and rebuilt.
But ebooks… my friends, ebooks have the potential to be both “common” (as in not-famous) and yet still be actively consumed 70 years hence. (Some authors will say they struggle to have their works consumed *now*, but that’s a separate issue.)
My business *could* survive me–I’ve got a capable assistant who runs things while I write. It would require someone actively managing the business of course, but that right person could be found assuming the books produce an income to support them.
It’s self-perpetuating. (!) (!!!)
So what does that mean in terms of the work itself? If I lift my sights to that 70 year horizon, does that change what I choose to write? If I peer 70 years into the past, there is no guide–the kinds of works that continued to be sold were only the “famous” variety.
I’m in uncharted territory.
Intrigued and bedeviled.
For today, I’ll bend my nose back to the grindstone and finish my current works. But soon… the future invites me to a party I’ll never see, but I may attend after all.