Monday, January 03, 2011

Celebrating Public Domain Day (Jan. 1)

January 1 is celebrated a Public Domain Day because that is when works pass into the public domain if they are eligilbe. In the U.S., works by authors that died in 1940 are now in the public domain (list).  Peter Hirtle notes, "That means that those of you with never-published letters and manuscripts from, for example, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Nathanael West, Paul Klee, and Walter Benjamin can now do whatever you want with them." (email)

While we celebrate what has entered the public domain in the United States, we should also note what hasn't yet passed into the public domain.  According the Center for the Study of the Public Domain at Duke Law School, prior to the U.S. Copyright Law being changed in 1978, works passed into the public domain after 56 years.  Therefore works published in 1954 would be entering the public domain today, if the law had not been changed.  Those works include: 
 A long list is available here.

Thanks to Peter Kurilecz and Peter Hirtle  for their emails on the Archives & Archivists (A&A) List
list about this.

1 comment:

Raymond McInnis said...

what impact is this going to have upon digitized books on google books, say, will versions formerly in some restricted view format become available "full view"?