Culture

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
copyright, europe, public domain, us



The US's Public Domain Class Of 2013

from the short-list dept

Every year, we talk about how January 1st is public domain day in many parts of the world, but thanks to constant copyright term extension, the US is left waiting and waiting and waiting -- kind of like the famous play by Samuel Beckett, which entered the public domain in many places around the world in 2011, but is still covered by copyright here.

The folks at the Public Domain Review have put together a nice list (and photo!) of the "Class of 2013": content creators whose works will be going into the public domain on January 1, 2013 in large parts of the world, including the EU, Brazil, Russia and many other places. To help out, I thought I'd put together the list of content creators whose works are entering the public domain in the US in 2013:
Yeah. It looks suspiciously like last year's list. And the year before that. And before that. And so on. Oh, and also... I hate to ruin the surprise, but next year's list? Pretty much the same. Year after that? Yeah, that too. For anyone who actually understands the value of the public domain in enriching and enhancing culture, the fact that the US -- at the behest of the entertainment industry, which has often mined the public domain for its own works -- isn't just shameful, it's downright despicable. We're stifling our own culture.

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  1. identicon
    Peter Hirtle, 24 Dec 2012 @ 6:25am

    Re: Re: Don't forget about unpublished works...

    Average_joe: prior to 1978, you sense would have been right. Unpublished works (with a few minor exceptions) did not receive federal copyright protection. Instead they were protected by state common law rights, which were perpetual. They would only enter the federal public domain when published and the federal clock started ticking, which is why a letter written in 1755 can still be protected by copyright.

    With the 1976 Act, unpublished works were brought into the federal system and given a life + 70 term. So that means, for example, that any unpublished letters, manuscripts, diaries, etc. in the Stefan Zweig collection at SUNY-Fredonia will enter the public domain on 1 January 2013, since Zweig committed suicide in 1942.

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