Download hi-rez scans of all 435 illustrations from John James Audubon's Birds of America

The Audubon Society's tribute to John James Audubon's Birds of America (originally published between 1827 and 1838) features all 435 of Audubon's vibrant, beautiful portraits of the birds he studied, along with his notes on their behaviors and other characteristics (the site also includes audio samples of each bird's call). Read the rest

Kickstarting a deluxe "Dracula" edition in a suitcase full of "primary source materials" from the novel

Josh O'Neill writes, "We're doing a box set edition of Dracula in which we reconstitute the novel into the primary source documents from which it's drawn: Mina's diary, Lucy's letters, Dailygraph newspaper clippings, even an actual phonograph record from Dr. Seward. It comes in a suitcase. Or a wooden casket or stone crypt, depending on the edition." Read the rest

Library of Congress releases 11,700 freely usable photos of "roadside America," taken by John Margolies

For decades, architectural critic and photographer John Margolies obsessively documented roadside attractions: vernacular architecture, weird sculpture, odd businesses and amusements. By his death in 2016, his collection consisted of more than 11,000 slides (he published books of his favorites, with annotations). Read the rest

Data-mining reveals that 80% of books published 1924-63 never had their copyrights renewed and are now in the public domain

This January, we celebrated the Grand Re-Opening of the Public Domain, as the onerous terms of the hateful Sonny Bono Copyright Act finally developed a leak, putting all works produced in 1923 into the public domain, with more to follow every year -- 1924 goes PD in 2020, and then 1925, etc. Read the rest

National Parks Service publishes hi-rez scans of Heinrich Berann's iconic, panoramic paintings of America's parks

In the 1980s and 1990s, the National Parks Service commissioned Heinrich Berann to produce gorgeous, panoramic paintings of America's beautiful national parks as part of an advertising campaign; this week the NPS published high-resolution scans of these images for free downloading. Read the rest

Using machine learning to pull Krazy Kat comics out of giant public domain newspaper archives

Joël Franusic became obsessed with Krazy Kat, but was frustrated by the limited availability and high cost of the books anthologizing the strip (some of which were going for $600 or more on Amazon); so he wrote a scraper that would pull down thumbnails from massive archives of pre-1923 newspapers and then identified 100 pages containing Krazy Kat strips to use as training data for a machine-learning model. Read the rest

To do in LA this weekend: laugh your head off at PUBLIC DOMAIN THE MUSICAL at the Hollywood Fringe

Last night, I went to see Public Domain: The Musical at the Actor's Company Theater in West Hollywood. I had no idea what to expect, but I was prepared for the worst (I've been to shows at fringe festivals where I would have walked out in the first five minutes, except I was the only person in the audience), and I was totally wrong. I can't remember the last time I laughed that hard. Read the rest

The works of William James Sidis, the "smartest man who ever lived"

Hans Henrik Honnens de Lichtenberg writes, "Here is a fine selection of books by the extraordinary man, William James Sidis. A January morning in 1910 hundreds of students and professors gathered in the great lecture hall at Harvard University. On stage steps up William James Sidis to present his research about the mathematics of the fourth dimension. William was just eleven years old. William James Sidis was a genius and he still has the highest IQ ever recorded, somewhere between 250 and 300." Read the rest

Some pretty impressive machine-learning generated poetry courtesy of GPT-2

GPT-2 is Open AI's language-generation model (last seen around these parts as a means of detecting machine-generated text); it's powerful and cool, and Gwern Branwen fed it the Project Gutenberg poetry corpus to see what kind of poetry it would write. Read the rest

Stock art for a new Gilded Age

From Spitalfields Life, a scanned set of "elegant cartoons of Regency bankers from 1824 by Richard Dighton in the archive at the Bishopsgate Institute testify," in the public domain and perfect for contemporary stock art for pieces about late-stage capitalism, clueless billionaires, the corrupting influence of wealth, and all those other zeitgeisty subjects. Read the rest

Video and audio from my closing keynote at Friday's Grand Re-Opening of the Public Domain

On Friday, hundreds of us gathered at the Internet Archive, at the invitation of Creative Commons, to celebrate the Grand Re-Opening of the Public Domain, just weeks after the first works entered the American public domain in twenty years. Read the rest

Kickstarting a monthly zine that celebrates 1923 works that entered the public domain this year

This month, for the first time in a generation, America's public domain grew, as the 20-year freeze created by the 1998 changes to copyright law finally thawed. Read the rest

The re-opening of America's public domain is good news for artists, less so for the corporations that exploit them

With the public domain re-opening for the first time in a generation (thanks, Sonny Bono), artists are once again getting a fresh installment of raw material with which to make new art, in the grand traditions of such driven weirdo/remix enthusiasts as Walt Disney and Brahms. Read the rest

Celebrate Public Domain Day with a viewing of Cecil B Demille's 1923 epic "The Ten Commandments"

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

Game design contest: remix America's new public domain!

This is the first day in 20 years for new works entering the American public domain, and to celebrate, Itch.io is hosting a 1923 public domain game jam, with prizes for best analog game, digital game, adaptation of a 9123 work, remix from multiple sources, deep cut, and visuals; judged by a group of archive, game and copyright nerds (including me!) -- here's a list of 1,000+ works that enter the public domain today to get you started! Read the rest

Happy Public Domain day: for real, for the first time in 20 years!

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

Only weeks remain until America's Public Domain begins to grow again, for the first time in 21 years!

This New Year's Day, for the first time in 21 years, new works will enter the public domain in America: the Class of 2019 was all creating in 1923, and has been locked in copyright for 96 years. Read the rest

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