Public Domain Day

Happy Public Domain Day

Timothy Vollmer, January 1st, 2013

Each year on January 1st, copyright protection expires for millions of creative works, allowing those works to be used by anyone without restriction or need for permission. On this Public Domain Day, we celebrate the rich creative works that have risen into the public domain, and mourn the massive number of works that could have been in the public domain but which aren’t due to unreasonable copyright extension or the chilling effects created by Byzantine copyright term schemes. The excellent Public Domain Review–which catalogs and offers some interesting insight, explanation, and analysis into unique and unusual treasures in the public domain–has profiled some great works from the Class of 2013. But in other countries, nothing will enter the public domain again this year.

While copyright terms continue to be extended and policymakers support a detrimental enforcement agenda, there has been no shortage of encouraging work in support of a robust and expanded public domain.

  • The Internet Archive announced this year a massive trove of over 1,000,000 mostly public domain content available for download over Bittorrent. In similar fashion, video archivist Rick Prelinger pointed us toward a big collection of public domain video footage.
  • Musopen continues to be a promising project initially dedicated to providing copyright free music content: music recordings, sheet music and a music textbook.
  • There’s ongoing efforts to educate the public about the public domain. The Public Domain Review published the Guide to Finding Interesting Public Domain Works Online, and P2PU is working on developing the Public Domain Detective course.
  • At the international policy arena, the public domain continues to be a topic on the agenda at venues like WIPO, where there have been discussions about how to support access to the public domain. The Communia Association has been at the forefront in championing support for broad access to public domain materials, and has been urging policymakers around the world to adopt liberal policies promoting wide access to public domain content. Communia–of which CC has been a longtime member–has been a key participant to these conversations at WIPO. CC has also been involved.
  • Communia published “The Digital Public Domain: Foundations for an Open Culture” as well as a comprehensive report detailing the efforts of the group during the three years it operated as the European Thematic Network on the Digital Public Domain.
  • Creative Commons continues to offer tools in support of the public domain. These include the CC0 Public Domain Dedication, which is a tool for authors to waive all copyright and related rights, thus putting their work in the public domain prior to the expiration of copyright. This is a crucial tool in use around the world for high profile projects. In September of this year, Europeana released 20 million records into the public domain using CC0. This release is the largest one-time dedication of cultural data to the public domain using CC0, and the dataset consists of descriptive information from a huge trove of digitized cultural and artistic works. In addition, the Public Domain Mark is used to mark works already in the worldwide public domain, such as for very old works where it is clear that the copyright has already expired.
  • In fact, more libraries are releasing metadata under CC0, and public domain may become the norm for libraries in sharing their data.

As you can see, there’s a ton of positive work being done to help increase our access to creative content in the public domain. But the work is not done: the longer we do not have access to these works the less rich our culture will be moving ahead. Let’s keep working on it and demanding access to content that could (and should) be available to all.

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Public Domain Day 2010 and Beyond

Diane Peters, January 1st, 2010

Creative Commons has been celebrating Public Domain Day – January 1st – for several years, alongside many others who are similarly passionate about the value of the public domain and the need to prevent its demise. Each year on this day, copyright protection expires for millions of creative works, allowing those works to be used, repurposed and built upon by anyone, without restriction or need for permission.

This year we are excited to witness a growth in the number of organizations and websites dedicated to celebrating and promoting this day. COMMUNIA, the European Thematic Network on the Digital Public Domain and an organization in which Creative Commons is a member, has started a new website devoted to Public Domain Day that includes resources such as public domain calculators, information about countries’ copyright terms, and related information.  The “project aims at increasing public awareness of this celebration and educating about the Public Domain concept and its potentialities for spreading culture and knowledge worldwide.”

As well, the Center for the Study of the Public Domain at Duke University has several valuable web pages dedicated to Public Domain Day, including a detailed FAQ.  As the site explains, “On the first day of each year, Public Domain Day celebrates the moment when copyrights expire. The films, photos, books and symphonies whose copyright term has finished become “free as the air to common use” (quoting U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis).

As Creative Commons embarks on its 8th year, plans are well underway to increase our focus and effort in the public domain arena.  Here are a few highlights of what you can look forward to:

  • In 2009, we launched the CC0 waiver, a tool that allows creators to effectively place their works in the public domain through a waiver of all copyright to the extent permitted by law.  This coming year, Creative Commons will publish for comment and adoption norms – non binding, community-based guidelines such as how to properly cite the author – to accompany CC0.  Look for more information about norms in early Spring.
  • As a complement to CC0, which is designed to add content to the public domain, in 2010 we will also be increasing development efforts on our public domain assertion tool.  This tool will enable members of the public and organizations such as libraries and museums to mark and tag public domain works available over the Internet.  Although long in the development cycle, the demand and desire for such a protocol endures.  Look for more information about our development plans soon.
  • As always, Creative Commons will continue its public domain work in other fora, such as COMMUNIA WG6 (Mapping the Public Domain).

These initiatives, together with those of many other like-minded organizations and individuals, are critical to the construction and maintenance of the public domain.  We hope you will join us in our efforts to build, preserve and make easily accessible this shared cultural resource.

Happy Public Domain Day 2010!

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Public Domain Works Celebrated in Poland

Michelle Thorne, January 9th, 2009

It’s after Three Kings Day, and after battling inboxes, CCi is back online and blogging. From our colleagues in CC Poland, some more exciting Public Domain Day news to ring in the New Year:

Poland’s Coalition for Open Education (KOED – Koalicja Otwartej Edukacji) has celebrated the Public Domain Day 2009 with a range of web-based actions and a press conference.

The Polish National Library, with the support of its director, dr. Tomasz Makowski, hosted talks about the public domain and related Polish projects at a press conference on Dec. 30. Bożena Michalska from the Nicolaus Copernicus University Library presented a list of over 500 authors whose works entered the public domain in Poland on 1st January 2009, based on the National Union Catalog NUKAT. Afterwards, Marek Siudym, a renowned Polish actor, recited a poem by Brunon Jasieński – a Polish futurist, who died in 1938 and who’s work is now in the public domain.

As a result of the well-attended conference, news of the Public Domain Day 2009 was published in a range of major media, including Gazeta Wyborcza and Rzeczpospolita dailies, Polish Public Radio, and the online portal Onet.

To coincide with the Public Domain Day 2009, Polish libraries have made available over a dozen works in their digital collections that are, as of January 1st 2009, in the public domain in Poland. A list of Polish works now in the public domain is maintained on the Coalition’s webpage.

The newly forged partnership, KOED, is striving to build and promote open educational resources in Poland. Bringing together common supporters of the Capetown Declaration principles, the Coalition is formed by one of CC Poland’s affiliate institutions, the Interdisciplinary Center for Modelling at University of Warsaw, and colleagues Wikimedia Polska Association, Foundation Modern Poland, and the Polish Librarians Association.

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Public Domain Day 2009

Mike Linksvayer, January 1st, 2009

Recent link offerings in celebration of Public Domain Day, which is January 1…

Creative Commons Switzerland informs us of a Public Domain Day jam session/brunch in Zurich:

Short English Summary: We will celebrate the public domain day on January 1 in Zurich. We will read, perform, transform works from authors whose work are in the public domain.

Tuesday CC board member Michael Carroll blogged about the meaning and potential of the Digital Public Domain and last month about things made possible by the public domain.

CC board chair James Boyle’s recently published must read book is titled The Public Domain.

LibriVox just reached 2000 recordings of books in the public domain. The recordings are also in the public domain. We noted their 1500 recording milestone in June, 2008. Number 2000 is The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Vol. VI. Listen to all six volumes in 2009!

Watch for much more about the public domain around the world in 2009 and revisit Public Domain Day 2008.

Addendum: Also see PDD2009 posts by John Mark Ockerboom and Elizabeth Townsend on works now in the public domain.

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