Public Domain FAIL

What is entering the public domain in the United States? Nothing. Once again, we will have nothing to celebrate this January 1st. Not a single published work is entering the public domain this year. Or next year, or the year after that. In fact, in the United States, no publication will enter the public domain until 2019.

Sad but true. The standard copyright term - how long someone owns the rights to their creative work - was extended in the 1990s to 70 years after the death of the author (the "life plus seventy" rule) or 95 years after first publication (if the work is owned by a corporation). As the Center for the Study of the Public Domain (at Duke University) notes, if you live in Europe, you'd now be free to remix and reuse (without permission) works by James Joyce and Virginia Woolf.

Which would be pretty cool. But wouldn't it be amazing if we could freely re-mix and re-use footage from Rebel Without a Cause, Ansel Adams' Half Dome Blowing Snow (below), and Nabokov's Lolita? If those copyright laws in 1990s hadn't been passed, those and many other works from 1955 would have entered the Public Domain on January 1, 2012.

Check out the links below for more information.


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