Happy Public Domain Day!

On the first of  January, the beginning of the new year is not the only thing to celebrate. The first of January is also known as “Public Domain Day“. Due to the expiration of copyright protection terms on works produced by authors who died several decades earlier, thousands of works enter the public domain on this date. Although we Pirates think the current terms of copyright protection are exuberant, it’s still worth taking a look a some of these old works that now become a freely available part of our shared world heritage. Some of the authors are Stefan Zweig, Neel Doff and Grant Wood for example.

Currently copyrighted publications are protected from between 50 years to 70 years after the death of the author. However waiting a very long time for a work to be released isn’t always enough. The current trend in legislation is to keep on extending the terms. In the United States, for example, the copyright act voted for in 1976 was extended by 20 years in 1998. This last extension is sometimes called the Mickey Mouse Protection Act. The effect is that no published American works will enter into the public domain until 2019.  In 2011 the European Union extended the period of copyright protection for recordings from 50 to 70 year after release. Some works released in EU countries with shorter protection terms were even pulled back from the public domain because of this.

Our Swedish member European parliament Amelia Andersdotter is currently planning an event on this topic. If you know an author, musician, film-maker or other kind of creator whose work will come into the public domain in 2013, please head over to her site and lend a hand. For a more detailed view on how Pirates think about copyright I advise you to read through the book “Copyright Reform” by Rick Falkvinge and MEP Christian Engström.

Featured image CC-BY by Chris (tsuacctnt)

Koen De Voegt

About Koen De Voegt

I'm a 34 year old electronics engineer from Antwerp, Belgium. I joined the Belgian Pirate Party in October of 2011. Around that time I was one of the first members of the Ghent branch. In January 2012 I founded the local branch of the PP in the city and province of Antwerp. I'm also travelling to international PP meetings, sometimes as delegate. I find the international nature of the pirate movement one of its great strengths to focus more on this I've successfully ran for co-chairperson of PPI.