In 1998, Disney led an entertainment industry lobbying effort that resulted in the term of copyright being extended by 20 years, even for works that had already been created -- a law with an incoherent basis, given that the US copyright system is constitutionally constrained to passing laws to promote new creative works (giving creators more copyright on works they've already created doesn't get them to make new ones, and it reduces the ability of new artists to remix existing works, the way Disney did with the Grimm's fairy tales).
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
Section 108h of the Copyright Act gives libraries the power to scan and serve copies of out-of-print books published between 1923 and 1941; it's never been used before but now the mighty Internet Archive is giving it a serious workout, adding them to their brilliantly named Sonny Bono Memorial Collection (when Bono was a Congressman, he tried to pass a law that would extend copyright to "forever less a day" and was instrumental in moving millions of works from the public domain back into copyright, "orphaning" them so that no one could preserve them and no one knew who the copyrights belonged to). Read the rest
Get ready to fall into a black hole of non-productivity once you open NASA's new Image and Video Library. Lots of great tags and captions to find what you want! Read the rest
Over a decade ago, we tipped readers to the astronomy illustrations of Trouvelot. now the New York Public Library has a large collection of his work available online. Read the rest
The Met's collection contains over 375,000 images of art in the public domain; they've made these directly searchable and browseable, there's a Github repo of metadata, integration with the Creative Commons search tool, and extensive collaboration with Wikimedia and GLAM Wiki. Read the rest
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.
Read the rest
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.
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 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
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
Luke Williams writes, "I thought you might like this song called 'Make Heat' from my science-pop album MOONS." Read the rest
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
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
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
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
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."
Read the rest
The We Shall Overcome Foundation, the plaintiff, is seeking to produce a documentary film about song and its relationship to the civil rights movement.
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