“By the time Joseph Conrad achieved popular success and financial stability for the first time, with Chance… he was worn out and in poor health with his best work behind him.”
– from The Times Literary Supplement, February 29, 2008
Good for Mr. Conrad then, that copyright gave him the opportunity to realize some reward from his best work. Recognition that fine, sometimes brilliant work may exist in a creator’s back catalogue is, presumably, one of the reasons we have designed copyright to last beyond a creator’s actual period of creation – and is one of the problems with a new business model based solely on active promotion. His health threatened by years of struggle and financial worry, Joseph Conrad was in no position to go on tour and sell Chance t-shirts.
"His only visit to America was in 1923 for a publicity tour, a trip made just fifteen months before his death. He gave just one reading, at a private house in New York, but there were reporters on the dock when he arrived; he enjoyed being lionized, but took to his bed as soon as he was back home in Kent."
And since his back catalogue saw meteoric commercial success after his death, isn’t it marvelous that copyright was in place to allow Conrad to provide for his beneficiaries through continued intellectual property rights?
Did these continued rights damage our culture by locking Mr. Conrad’s work away from us? Did they suppress the creativity of future creators by making the work inaccessible for rework? Ask Francis Ford Coppola, who reworked Conrad’s Heart of Darkness into one of the greatest, most successful films of the last half century, Apocalypse Now.