Category Archives: Observances

January 1st 2014: Public Domain Day

Noteworthiness

Many countries around the world have (I think) excessive copyright limits, usually the life of the author plus another 70 years. Any pieces of work for created by people who died in 1943 therefore become public domain on January 1st, 2014. Once content is in the public domain, it is free for anyone to use, remix and build upon. Thus, January 1st became known as Public Domain Day.

In 2014, a number of fascinating pieces of work will become public domain n those countries where the copyright limit is life plus 70 years. These include the works of Beatrix Potter, Nikola Tesla, Fats Waller and Sergei Rachmaninoff. Can you imagine? You are now free to use The Tale of Peter Rabbit any way you like!

Public Domain Icon
The Public Domain icon.
This image has no copyright.

It should be pointed out that Public Domain Day doesn’t exist in the United States. Their much stricter law has meant that no works have entered the public domain since the 70s, and won’t until 2019 (assuming that no new law passes before then). In America’s case, Public Domain Day is about telling people what could be available for them to use, were it not for their laws.

Commemorate

The most obvious way to commemorate Public Domain Day is to enjoy the news works that have entered the public domain. Read The Tale of Peter Rabbit, listen to the music of Waller and Rachmaninoff, or enjoy the artwork of Soutine.

If you’re the creative type, go one step further and try creating new works from these newly-freed works! Remix, digitise, copy, alter, whatever you please. The beauty of public domain is the freedom to create even more.

Or, to fully embody the spirit of public domain, consider releasing your own works into the public domain, or use the well-known Creative Commons licences that allow others to use and remix your works.

Here at Days of Note, we’re big fans of Creative Commons and public domain works. We make liberal use of images supplied by these generous creators and indeed, have released this entire website as CC0, or “no rights reserved”. This means that any text, images or other material created by this site is free to use in any way you like, as it’s in the public domain! Why not consider doing the same?

References

Public Domain Day official website

“Access Denied” published in The Economist (10/01/2013)

Wikipedia