New Voynich Manuscript reproduction uses new photos, looks great

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An "authorized" reproduction of the legendary Voynich Manuscript is finally available in print form, published by Yale University from new photographs taken for the purpose. Yale's Beinecke Library owns the document and has taken its sweet time putting out a decent art book. The quality is better than the popular "unauthorized" edition published last year; that one uses older scans widely available on the web, but I suppose was good enough to force the university's hand.

The first authorized copy of this mysterious, much-speculated-upon, one-of-a-kind, centuries-old puzzle. The Voynich Manuscript is produced from new photographs of the entire original and accompanied by expert essays that invite anyone to understand and explore the enigma. Many call the fifteenth-century codex, commonly known as the “Voynich Manuscript,” the world’s most mysterious book. Written in an unknown script by an unknown author, the manuscript has no clearer purpose now than when it was rediscovered in 1912 by rare books dealer Wilfrid Voynich. The manuscript appears and disappears throughout history, from the library of the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II to a secret sale of books in 1903 by the Society of Jesus in Rome. The book’s language has eluded decipherment, and its elaborate illustrations remain as baffling as they are beautiful. For the first time, this facsimile, complete with elaborate folding sections, allows readers to explore this enigma in all its stunning detail, from its one-of-a-kind “Voynichese” text to its illustrations of otherworldly plants, unfamiliar constellations, and naked women swimming though fantastical tubes and green baths.

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On Jan 1, awesome stuff will enter the public domain: HG Wells, Gertrude Stein, Buster Keaton, Walt Disney, Lenny Bruce (but not in the USA)

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In much of the world, copyright ends 50 years after the creator's death, in some of the rest of the world, it ends 70 years after the creator's death; in the USA, things have stopped going into the public domain until 2019 (unless America decides to retroactively extend copyright...again!). Read the rest

The Hagströmer Medico-Historical Library: amazing collection of high-res scans

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The Hagströmer Medico-Historical Library is a treasury of the past, in particular its online Wunderkammer, where glorious high-resolution scans of old artwork and book illustrations pile up insufficiently explored. [via] Read the rest

No More Road Trips? Feature film made from 90 families' home movies, 1925-78

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Rick Prelinger writes, "Today I've released my 2013 feature film NO MORE ROAD TRIPS? to the world for viewing, public screening and remixing." Read the rest

Science themed music video made from remixed public domain footage

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Luke Williams writes, "I thought you might like this song called 'Make Heat' from my science-pop album MOONS." Read the rest

Color illustrations of 16th C eye-diseases, including those caused by witchcraft

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16th century barber-surgeon Georg Bartisch began his barber-surgeon apprenticeship in 1548 in Saxony, and three years later, became an itinerant barber-surgeon in Saxony, Silesia, and Bohemia. Read the rest

Fundraising for San Francisco's legendary Prelinger experimental research library

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Hero of the Public Domain Rick Prelinger writes, "Many of you know of Prelinger Library, an independent, experimental research library in San Francisco's South of Market district." Read the rest

Kickstarting Losswords: a mobile game you play by unscrambling passages from great literature

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A group of successful indie game devs are kickstarting Losswords, a game whose premise is that players are the resistance in a totalitarian future in which books have been banned, and games are the only form of permitted entertainment: you keep literature alive by making games out of the great books of history. Read the rest

British Library posts 1 million copyright-free images online

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The British Library has posted over a million copyright free images taken from books prior to 1900 on Flickr. That means if you need decorations of virtually any type for a website or book, you’ll find more than you can imagine among these visual riches. Just click through!

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'We Shall Overcome' copyright may be overcome by same lawyers who freed 'Happy Birthday' into public domain

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A song that became the "unofficial anthem to the civil rights movement" was wrongly placed under copyright, and should be released into the public domain. That's the argument in a lawsuit filed today in federal court over the song "We Shall Overcome."

Who's behind it? The same group of lawyers who fought for years to free "Happy Birthday" from copyright prison.

The 'Happy Birthday' case succeeded at last just a few months ago, and made it safe for little kids all over the world to sing the song over candlelit cakes at birthday parties, without fear of attorneys knocking on the door demanding royalty payments.

The new copyright battle is a proposed class action lawsuit that asks for copyright licensing fees to be returned. The case argues that royalties were wrongfully collected by Ludlow Music Inc. and The Richmond Organization, which claimed copyright over "We Shall Overcome" in 1960. But the song is probably based on an old African-American spiritual, according to popular belief--and the lawsuit.

The song is based on “an African-American spiritual with exactly the same melody and nearly identical lyrics from the late 19th or early 20th century,” reads the complaint.

"This was never copyrightable to begin with," Mark Rifkin, an attorney for the plaintiff, told Reuters Tuesday. "The song had been in the public domain for many, many years before anyone tried to copyright it."

From Reuters:

The We Shall Overcome Foundation, the plaintiff, is seeking to produce a documentary film about song and its relationship to the civil rights movement.

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Elements of telegraphic style, 1928

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Nelson E. Ross's "small booklet" sets out the principles of sending telegrams "in the most economical manner possible," so you can take full advantage of a communications medium that "annihilates distance and commands immediate attention." Read the rest

Here's a fun way to browse the 187,000 digital items in the NY library's public domain collection

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I could get lost on this page for weeks. The stereoscopic views are great, if you know how to see them with your eyes.

On January 6th, 2016, The New York Public Library made over 187K digital items in the public domain available for high resolution download. This is one of many experiments by the NYPL Labs to help patrons understand and explore what was contained in that release.

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New York Public Library does the public domain right

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The New York Public Library is aggressively digitizing the public domain works in its collections, adding high-quality machine-readable metadata to each of the hundreds of thousands of assets, providing an API, offering residencies to remixers who do interesting things with the collection, and offering all those assets in high-rez with "No permission required. No restrictions on use." Read the rest

Public Domain Day outside the USA: what Canada and the rest of the world get today

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In the USA, laws passed in 1976 and 1998 ensure that virtually nothing ever enters the public domain, but it's a different story in the rest of the world -- for now, at least. Read the rest

Happy public domain day: here's what copyright term extension stole from you in 2015

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When Congress amended US copyright law in 1976, they extended the copyrights on works whose creators had produced them with the promise of not more than 56 years. Since then, almost nothing has entered the US public domain. Read the rest

Copyfraud: Anne Frank Foundation claims father was "co-author," extends copyright by decades

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The Anne Frank Foundation -- a Swiss nonprofit that supports children's charities and provides a stipend to gentiles who hid Jews during WWII -- has claimed that Otto Frank, Anne Frank's father, is the legal co-author of her diaries, a move that will have the effect of extending copyright on the diaries to at least 2030. Read the rest

Boston's WGBH initiates careless, groundless legal action against Fedflix project

Rogue archivist Carl Malamud writes, "I got mugged by a bunch of Boston hooligans. Readers of Boing Boing may be familiar with my FedFlix project which has resulted in 6,000 government videos getting posted to YouTube and the Internet Archive." Read the rest

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