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!

[Via Digital Arts Online] Read the rest

'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

British Library releases over a million public domain images

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The British Library uploaded over one million scanned images to Flickr, designating them as public domain for all to share and use. Quartz has an article about the project.

I like this image from an 1890 copy of The Aldine “O'er Land and Sea Library. It shows a man being attacked by a "school of hungry dog fish." It is exactly the kind of sensationalistic illustration that was used countless times on the covers of men's "adventure" magazines of the 1950s and 1960s. Take a gander at the examples below.

"Spider attack! How the fuck did I get myself into this situation?"

"Monkey attack! How the fuck did I get myself into this situation?"

"Weasle attack! How the fuck did I get myself into this situation?"

"Scorpion attack! How the fuck did I get myself into this situation?"

"Monkey attack! How the fuck did I get myself into this situation?"

"Hyena attack! How the fuck did I get myself into this situation?"

"Bear attack! How the fuck did I get myself into this situation?"

"Giant otter attack! How the fuck did I get myself into this situation?"

"Monkey attack! How the fuck did I get myself into this situation?"

"Rhino attack! How the fuck did I get myself into this situation?"

"Flying squirrel attack! How the fuck did I get myself into this situation?"

"Bobcat attack! How the fuck did I get myself into this situation?"

"Crab attack! How the fuck did I get myself into this situation?"

"Bat attack! Read the rest

The surprising games people made with public domain works

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Tired of Cthulu and zombies? Try some games about Dorian Gray, H.G. Wells' The Time Machine, and many other fruits of a jam themed around public domain works.

San Franciscans: help free the records of the US court system

Rogue archivist Carl Malamud sez, "On May 1 (Friday) at the Internet Archive in San Francisco, I'm going to be running a 'PACER Polling Place' from 8am-5pm. I hope you'll stop by and give me a hand." Read the rest

Canadian Big Content spokesjerk says the public domain is against the public interest

Michael Geist writes, "On World Book and Copyright Day, it is worth noting how Graham Henderson, the President of Music Canada (formerly the Canadian Recording Industry Association) characterized the government's decision to extend the term of copyright in sound recordings and performances:" Read the rest

Happy Public Domain Day: here are the works that copyright extension stole from you in 2015

Jennifer Jenkins writes, "What could have been entering the public domain in the US on January 1, 2015? Under the law that existed until 1978 -- Works from 1958. The films 'Attack of the 50 Foot Woman,' 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,' and 'Gigi,' the books 'Our Man in Havana,' 'The Once and Future King,' and 'Things Fall Apart,' the songs 'All I Have to Do Is Dream' and 'Yakety Yak,' and more -- What is entering the public domain this January 1? Not a single published work." Read the rest

San Francisco: visit the public domain arcade, play games, learn about threats

Elliot from Creative Commons writes, "Your readers might remember the Public Domain Game Jam from a few months ago -- next Tues, Sep 9 people in San Francisco will be able to play the games from it and discuss them with jam organizer Nicky Case and then Parker Higgins from the Electronic Frontier Foundation will be talking about why the public domain is under attack, and what you can do to defend it."

CC Salon in San Francisco: Public Domain FTW!

(Thanks, Elliot!) Read the rest

Internet Archive uploads more than 14 million public domain images to Flickr

Kalev Leetaru programatically recovered all the images that were discarded by the OCR program that digitizes the millions of public domain books scanned by the Archive; these were cropped, cleaned up, and uploaded to Flickr with the text that appears before and after them, and links to see their whole scanned page. Read the rest

Global Game Jam asks developers to use the public domain, in Aaron Swartz's honor

Susan writes, "Over 22K game developers from all over the world (72 countries) came together this past weekend (January 24-26) at the annual Global Game Jam (GGJ). This year's event was record breaking, having churned out over 4K games with the theme 'We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.' The yearly event focusing on collaboration, experimentation and innovation in games challenges developers of all skill levels. The jam is about creating community as well as creating games, all jams are physical jams where you have a chance to grow your skills and your network. Add to that the event prides itself on being hardware and software agnostic -- open to digital and analog games that are open source adhering to a Creative Common's license.

"As if making a game from start to finish with your new found friends at one of the 400+ local jams isn't hard enough, the GGJ offers diversifiers help challenge developers just a bit more. This year GGJ decided to honor the memory of the late Aaron Swartz by creating a diversifier that asks the developer of the game to only use materials found in the public domain. The Global Game Jam is a volunteer based 501c3 looking to share the universal language of games around the world while generating a buzz of creativity for everyone to feed from."

Global Game Jam (Thanks, Susan!) Read the rest

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