Happy Public Domain Day 2008
Well... depending on where you are in the world. According to CopyrightWatch.ca:
"Welcome to 2008, and let’s welcome into the Public Domain thousands, indeed millions, of creative works from the collective cultural past of our little planet and its many countries. Yes, it’s January 1st, Public Domain Day in most countries of the world, where copyright runs from the death of the author of a work until the end of the 50th, 70th, or some other year thereafter.
In the largest bloc of countries of the world, with the majority of the world’s population, the general copyright term of life+50 expired no later than midnight this morning for the works whose author, or last-surviving of multiple authors, died in 1957.
These works, which have passed out of copyright and become part of our commonly-held cultural heritage, include works of art and literature, accounts of discovery and adventure, biographies and autobiographies, scientific and philosopical treatises, film and theology, architecture and poetry; in short, products of the human mind in every medium, in every field of creativity, discovery, and endeavour....
The second-largest bloc in the world copyright map, with about half the countries of the life+50 universe, is the life+70 universe, which includes much of Europe. This means that works by authors, or last-surviving authors, who died in 1937 are now public domain in the life+70 countries....
In the United States, unpublished works by the life+70 class of authors are also in the public domain as of today, joining published works by the same authors, if published before 1923. Published works by those auhors, if published after 1922, may still by under copyright in the U.S.
In Canada and the United Kingdom, however, the situation is reversed. While published works by authors who died 50 or more years ago are public domain in Canada (or more than 70 years ago in the U.K.), unpublished works, such as letters and other papers, are still under copyright in Canada for works by authors who died after 1949, and in the U.K. for unpublished works by all authors, no matter how long ago they died. This anamolous class of unpublished works will not see their British Public Domain Day until January 1, 2039, or in Canada until January 1, 2049, unless and until the Parliaments of the two countries finally see fit to eliminate this confusing and culturally counterproductive bit of legislative stupidity.
But let us nevertheless pause to celebrate the gains that the public domain has made today, in Canada and throughout the world. It’s your past, your cultural heritage, your public domain. Promote it, celebrate it, and use it, or we will lose it.
Happy Public Domain Day 2008!"