What Entered the Public Domain in 2013? Zip, Nada, Zilch!

2013whatcouldhavebeencollage2Last year, key works by James Joyce and Vir­ginia Woolf final­ly entered the pub­lic domain, at least in Europe. (Find them in our col­lec­tions of Free eBooks and Free Audio Books.) This year, we got pret­ty much bup­kis, espe­cial­ly if we’re talk­ing about the Unit­ed States. Over at the web­site run by The Cen­ter for the Study of the Pub­lic Domain at Duke Uni­ver­si­ty, they write:

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. In fact, in the Unit­ed States, no pub­li­ca­tion will enter the pub­lic domain until 2019. Even more shock­ing­ly, the Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that Con­gress can take back works from the pub­lic domain. Could Shake­speare, Pla­to, or Mozart be pulled back into copy­right? The Supreme Court gave no rea­son to think that they could not be.

The Cen­ter then goes on to enu­mer­ate the works that would have entered the com­mons had we lived under the copy­right laws that pre­vailed until 1978. Under those laws, “thou­sands of works from 1956 would be enter­ing the pub­lic domain. They range from the films The Best Things in Life Are FreeAround the World in 80 DaysFor­bid­den Plan­et, and The Man Who Knew Too Much, to the Phillip K. Dick’s The Minor­i­ty Report and Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Jour­ney into Night, to sem­i­nal arti­cles on arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence.” Have a look at some of the oth­ers, sev­er­al of which appear in the mosa­ic above.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Lawrence Lessig’s Last Speech on Free Cul­ture. Watch it Online.

Lawrence Lessig Speaks Once Again About Copy­right and Cre­ativ­i­ty

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Comments (5)
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  • Alex says:

    It may seem some­what crim­i­nal, but thank­ful­ly the inter­net bypass­es the Copy­right, which is a very pow­er­ful gain for the dis­sem­i­na­tion of all forms of knowl­edge offered free of charge to the poor. I have in my house thou­sands of books, movies and mag­a­zines, tech­ni­cal­ly down­loaded ille­gal­ly.
    It is a loss to the cul­tur­al mar­ket? No.
    Peo­ple like me, with free access to huge amounts of cul­ture, evolve intel­lec­tu­al­ly, will for­ward this thirst for knowl­edge and indi­vid­u­als will be much more cre­ative, much more pre­pared pro­fes­sion­als, con­tent cre­ators hold­ers of more con­tent.
    We must remem­ber that Dis­ney itself appro­pri­at­ed ille­gal­ly much con­tent to put on their films, and that the very idea of the cin­e­matog­ra­ph­er was used with­out being paid noth­ing to the cre­ators of the equip­ment.
    The basis of all cul­tur­al rev­o­lu­tion is in free access to knowl­edge for free, includ­ing those pro­mot­ed by com­mer­cial inter­ests.

  • Chris says:

    This post made me real­ly sad, but I’m glad peo­ple are draw­ing atten­tion to it.

    Last year I worked on a mag­a­zine that cel­e­brat­ed the release of Ulysses into the pub­lic domain:


    It’s sad to think that we could­n’t do the same thing again in 2013 — espe­cial­ly as (I hope) the mag shows what you can do with the free­dom to remix and reuse.

  • Ari says:

    Hi, the links in the arti­cle have some issues, I tried three and could­n’t find the con­tent.

  • Zelda says:

    What entered the pub­lic domain in 2013 in the Unit­ed States? The real answer is almost every­thing pub­lished in 1917 giv­en that every­thing pub­lished less than 95 years ago was pulled back into copy­right by Son­ny Bono in 1998 no mat­ter how many such works had pre­vi­ous­ly escaped copy­right.

  • Ulysses says:

    Unfor­tu­nate­ly, Ulysses (1922) was kicked out of the pub­lic domain by Son­ny Bono in 1998 and did­n’t reen­ter the pub­lic domain until 1/01/2018 (at the ear­li­est).

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