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2010 January

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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