Happy 2016 from Digital Aladore!
January 1st brings us to another joyous Public Domain Day, the holiday where lots of people celebrate the New Year AND a new crop of works entering the public domain.
Sadly in America we have NOTHING to celebrate. Because of bizarre copyright extensions, we will not have any works entering the public domain until 2019. It is stunning to think that while the rest of the world is celebrating, the USA has not had a happy Public Domain Day since 1978… When copyright was first introduced in America the term was 14 years; current works now enjoy life of the author + 70 years, or if the work of multiple authors (corporate authorship) 95 years from publication. The extensions in 1978 and 1998 applied to retrospectively to old works, creating a crazy tangle of rules (check out a summary from Peter B. Hirtle), which highlights the nonsense of the move: the rationale for extended terms was incentivizing creation, but it seems hard to fathom it motivating a bunch of dead people! Meanwhile the preservation of our cultural resources has become illegal, with fragile artifacts such as our film heritage literally disappearing.
Here is what I said last year, and things have only gotten worse:
Recent research and economic modeling suggest that current copyright terms are too long and do NOT provide incentive for creation. Instead our shared culture is being locked away by corporate profiteers. In fact, the majority of works still protected by copyright are orphans–out of print with no likely hood of ever being used again commercially. Projects like Digital Aladore, Free software, and honestly the majority of the internet point out that creators aren’t purely profit driven. Its time to reform copyright to benefit the creators rather than hoarders of capitol (who already have plenty of power and wealth!).
North of the border, in Canada things are more cheerful this year. The works of lot of great authors and thinkers will become freely available resources to drive current learning, thought, and creativity. Libraries and Archives will be able to legally preserve, digitize, and provide access to valuable cultural creations. Check out the Public Domain Review’s Class of 2016 for some highlights. However, there is a pall on the celebrations. The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal threatens to force countries to have a minimum of life+70 years copyright term.
A sad holiday indeed, learn more at the Center for the Study of the Public Domain:
“What do these laws mean to you? As you can read in our analysis here, they impose great (and in many cases unnecessary) costs on creativity, on libraries and archives, on education and on scholarship. More broadly, they impose costs on our collective culture. We have little reason to celebrate on Public Domain Day because our public domain has been shrinking, not growing.”
None-the-less, here at Digital Aladore we wish you all the Best for the New Year!
Following on the Public Domain Day post from last week, I thought I should point out the Exciting and Interesting comic book discussion of fair use and copyright from the Duke Center for the Study of the Public Domain:
“Bound by Law?” http://web.law.duke.edu/cspd/comics/digital.php
The comic book is a fun way to communicate about complex and poorly understood issues, but I think it also demonstrates another aspect of openness–open distribution. The comic is licensed CC-by-nc-sa and you can get it in many different forms, recognizing many different potential users and uses.
If you want a nice physical copy, there is print versions available for purchase from multiple sources. If you want to read online, there is the free HTML website or a Flash version (with more functionality than HTML, but requires Flash Player and more resources). Further more, there are many different versions available for download, depending on your needs and resources: two sizes of PDF, high res cover images for web or printing, or a zip of the individual page images for easy reuse. There are links to versions in several languages, and even an edition without the text to facilitate users making their own translations. That is OPEN!
More than just providing material free of cost, more than just publishing content, they are interacting with users, encouraging further creativity and thought.
If you want some more comics (relating to copyright!), check out “Mimi and Eunice’s Intellectual Pooperty” from Nina Paley, http://questioncopyright.com/mimi-book-ip.html
The page offers print booklets for purchase or a free CBR format version to download, and links to the free master files on Archive.org. More comics are available at the main Mimi and Eunice site. Nina Paley describes her approach to intellectual property as Copyheart: ♡2010 by Author/Artist. Copying is an act of love. Please copy.
For a more academic discussion of issues surrounding the public domain, check out James Boyle, The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind, http://www.thepublicdomain.org
Boyle’s website offers free download of several books and educational resources.