It's been 48 hours since the American public domain expanded for the first time in 20 years, allowing Americans free access to works from 1923, including Cecil B Demille's 1923 epic "The Ten Commandments" (here's 1,000 or so more). Read the rest
Every year, Jennifer Jenkins and Jamie Boyle from the Duke Center for the Public Domain compile a "Public Domain Day" list (previously) that highlights the works that are not entering the public domain in America, thanks to the 1998 Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, which hit the pause button on Americans' ability to freely use their artistic treasures for two decades -- a list that also included the notable works entering the public domain in more sensible countries of the Anglophere, like Canada and the UK, where copyright "only" lasted for 50 years after the author's death.
Read the rest
Every year, Jennifer Jenkins and Jamie Boyle from the Duke Center for the Public Domain compile a "Public Domain Day" list (previously) that highlights the works that are not entering the public domain in America, thanks to the 1998 Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, which hit the pause button on Americans' ability to freely use their artistic treasures for two decades -- a list that also included the notable works entering the public domain in more sensible countries of the Anglophere, like Canada and the UK, where copyright "only" lasted for 50 years after the author's death. Read the rest
Timothy from Creative Commons writes, "In the US beginning Jan 1, 2019–after a devastating 20 year drought brought on by the infamous 1998 'Mickey Mouse Protection Act.' Creators, commons advocates, librarians, legal activists and others are celebrating in San Francisco at the Internet Archive on January 25, 2019 to mark the 'Grand Re-Opening of the Public Domain.' There will be keynotes (including from Cory Doctorow and Larry Lessig), panels with legal experts like Pam Samuelson and EFF, and lightning talks to showcase the important, weird, and wonderful public domain." Read the rest
When the USA decided to retroactively extend the term of copyright, it deprived itself of free, open access to important cultural treasures that new creators could build upon as creators have done since time immemorial. Read the rest
Jennifer Jenkins writes, "What could have been entering the public domain in the US on January 1, 2017? Under the law that existed until 1978 -- Works from 1960. The books 'To Kill a Mockingbird' and 'Rabbit, Run' the films 'The Magnificent Seven' and 'The Time Machine' early episodes of 'The Flintstones' the musical 'Camelot' and more -- What is actually entering the public domain this January 1? Not a single published work." Read the rest
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
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
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
Jennifer Jenkins from the Duke Center for the Public Domain writes, "What could have been entering the public domain in the US on January 1, 2014? Under the law that existed until 1978 -- Works from 1957. The books 'On The Road,' 'Atlas Shrugged,' and 'The Cat in the Hat,' the films 'The Bridge on the River Kwai,' '12 Angry Men,' and 'Funny Face,' the musical 'West Side Story' and the songs 'All Shook Up' and 'Great Balls of Fire,' and more -- What is entering the public domain this January 1? Not a single published work." Read the rest
It's Public Domain day again -- the day when music, books and movies enter the public domain in countries where copyright lasts for the life of the author plus 50 years (hint: not the USA).
But as John Mark Ockerbloom points out, the list of life+50 countries keeps getting shorter, as more and more countries are arm-twisted into extending their copyright terms by the US Trade Representative. And increasingly, countries are passing regressive copyright laws that take works out of the public domain and put them back into copyright -- an insane policy that ends up criminalizing new art that incorporates the old, and that provides no new incentive to create (give Elvis or the Beatles 50 more years of copyright if you like, they're still not going to record any more music).
It's not all bad news: between the Hathi Trust lawsuit (which held it legal to scan old, in-copyright books under some circumstances) and the growth of Creative Commons licenses.
There's urgent work to be done. We need to fight copyright term extension, to expand fair use and fair dealing, increase access to orphan works, and discredit and destroy the new practice of making global copyright law through secretive treaty negotiations like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge, and the Open Knowledge Foundation are all working to bring copyright into line with the modern world, and to stop its from being used for censorship and surveillance. Read the rest
Jennifer Jenkins sez, "What could have been entering the public domain in the US on January 1, 2012? Under the law that existed until 1978... Works from 1955. Asimov's The End of Eternity, Nabokov's Lolita, the play Inherit the Wind, Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief, Disney's Lady and the Tramp, Rebel Without a Cause, The Seven Year Itch, the music for Blue Suede Shoes and Tutti Frutti, and Laurence Olivier's film version of Richard III... What is entering the public domain today? Nothing." Read the rest
To commemorate the 300th anniversary of the Statute of Anne, the first modern copyright law, the British Council asked a lot of people with strong ideas about copyright, from the CEO of Random House to the founder of Wikipedia, to remark on what copyright is for and how it might be improved. Here's the short essay I contributed:
Read the rest
If there's one lie more corrosive to creativity above all others, it is the lie of romantic individual originality. Today, 'copyright curriculum' warns schoolchildren not to be 'copycats' - to come up with their own original notions.
We are that which copies. Three or four billion years ago, by some process that we don't understand, molecules began to copy themselves. We are the distant descendants of those early copyists - copying is in our genes. We have a word for things that don't copy: 'dead'.
Walk the streets of Florence and you'll find a 'David' on every corner: because for half a millennium, Florentine sculptors have learned their trade by copying (but try to take a picture of 'David' on his plinth and you'll be tossed out by a security guard who wants to end this great tradition in order to encourage you to buy a penny postcard).
I learned to write by copying. In 1977, when I was six, my father took me to 'Star Wars'. I couldn't figure out how a made-up story could be so exciting, so I went home, stapled some paper together and trimmed it to book size, and wrote out the story as best I remembered it, doing it over and over again as I strove to unpick it.
Michael sez, "It's January 1st! Do you know what works are passing into the public domain in the life+50, and life+70 countries? Lots!
Here in the USA (where basically nothing published in 1923 or later will ever enter the public domain, to protect Disney's 'Steamboat Willie'), only unpublished works of the life+70 class of authors enter the public domain.
Whew. Thank goodness for small favors, right?. We can now expect the unpublished works of George Gershwin, H.P. Lovecraft, Amelia Earhart, J.M. Barrie, and John Davison Rockefeller (yeah right), among many others, to be free and clear of copyright encumbrances for those who wish to publish them.
Boy, unpublished works! Wow! After 70 years since they died, there must be lots of those hanging around, right? Right?"
John Mark Ockerbloom, online librarian, sez, "For this year's Public Domain Day, I'm blogging about both what the public domain can do for us, and what we can do for the public domain.
In particular, this is the first New Year's Day that's more than 14 years after the 1993 introduction of NCSA Mosaic, the browser that started the explosive growth of the World Wide Web. 14 years is also the initial term of copyright specified in the Statute of Anne and the US's first copyright law. So in honor of that, I'm dedicating the copyrights of the 1993 versions of my web sites, which include the still-going-strong Online Books Page, to the public domain. And I invite other Net old-timers to make similar dedications of their old online content."
Read the rest
The life+50 class of the newly-Public Domain includes works by American novelist Anne Parrish; British novelist Dorothy Richardson; Mexican artist Miguel Covarrubias; Romanian poet George Bacovia; Canadian-American geologist Reginald Aldworth Daly; American journalist, novelist, dramatist and poet Kenneth Lewis Roberts; Australian children’s author Gladys Lister; American landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr.; Irish-British mystery author Freeman Wills Crofts; American architect Julia Morgan; Swiss-Canadian geologist Carl Faessler; Canadian historian John Bartlet Brebner; Swiss artist Adolf Dietrich; American Prohibition agent Eliot Ness; Romanian-born sculptor Constantin Brancusi; American novelist and poet Christopher Morley; Italian author Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa; English theologian, priest, and crime writer Msgr Ronald Arbuthnott Knox; American geologist William H.
CopyrightWatch.ca has a list of creators whose works went into the public domain on Monday. In Canada and other countries where copyright lasts 50 years after death, this means creators who died in 1956. In the US and other life-plus-70 lands, this means creators who died in 1936. Their works are now the in the public domain. They are the shared property of the whole of humanity, to be preserved, enjoyed, remixed, and remembered without barrier, permission, let or restriction.
The list is humbling and amazing and exciting and it goes on for page after page. Humanity received a truly wonderful gift this January 1, Public Domain Day the world 'round.
Read the rest
Three years ago on this day, millions of pages of archival documents, whose authors had died before 1949, became public domain in Canada. This was the result of long-overdue amendments to the Copyright Act in 1998, which ended the perpetual copyright in unpublished “works.”
Unfortunately, there will not be another archival Public Domain Day for archivists, historians, genealogists, and others, to celebrate in Canada until January 1, 2049. This is because the short-sighted 1998 amendments to the Copyright Act also provided that the “works”, including historical documents, by “authors” who died between 1949 and 1998 inclusive, would have a copyright term fixed neither to the life of the author nor the creation of the work, but to the coming-into-force of the amendment. Those unpublished literary works – the raw material of history – whose authors died between 1949 and 1998, will not be public domain for nearly another half- century.
Yesterday marked the turning of the year, and as a consequence, millions of works entered the public domain in Canada and other countries with copyright terms more limited than those in the US.
Today, January 1, 2004, every unpublished document whose author had died on or before December 31, 1948, has passed from copyright into the public domain in Canada...
Also today, the published works of people who had the good sense to die in 1953 have become public domain in Canada and any other country which retains the life+50 rule for copyright term. These people include Polish poet Julian Tuwim, British mathematician Alan Turing, Dutch children's author Hugo Pilon, Russian author and Nobel laureate Ivan Bunin, Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, metaphyisical author Baird Spalding, Norwegian novelist and Nobel laureat Knut Hamsun, playwright and Nobel laureate Eugene O'Neill (1953 was a bad year for Nobel laureates!), Irish poet and Yeats' one-time lover Maud Gonne, Welsh poet and playwright Dylan Thomas (bad year for poets!), country music singer-songwriter Hank Williams, French author Hilaire Belloc, American historian J.G. Randall, Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev (bad year for Russians!), founder of Saudi Arabia Abd al-Aziz ibn Saud, Maria Montessori of school fame, and many more.