2019 - first time in 20 years that new works go into US public domain

(Elle Stone) #1

The following article “greets with joy” the fact that stuff from 1923 is finally in the US public domain:

If the 1989 law hadn’t extended copyright by 20 years - thanks to Disney, works through 1943 would now be in the US public domain:

But it’s not just 20 years worth of work that hasn’t yet entered the US public domain. A law passed in 1975 law (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1976_Copyright_Act) extended copyright by quite a lot, though perhaps also brought US copyright law into line with the rest of the world - yes? no?

Anyway, if the 1975 law hadn’t been passed, today stuff from 1962 and back would be in the US public domain:

In other words, in the United States we’ve lost track of and access to most of two entire generations of creative and scientific work, work that can’t be quoted/printed/displayed/recorded/published without permission. Tracking down who owns the copyright can be time-consuming or impossible, quite apart from whatever price the current copyright owner might want to charge if they are finally located.

This “US public domain” problem has led to serious deterioration and loss of old film footage that hasn’t yet entered the public domain:

Non-public-domain material that currently isn’t available through commercial channels (because it’s is out of print) typically isn’t taught in US schools, not even at the graduate levels because of issues with and costs of securing printing rights. This material can’t be copied, modified, incorporated by artists and musicians; can’t be posted to the internet for study, can’t be freely reprinted and distributed in book form. So in school, we learn of old stuff in the public domain, and new stuff that’s still available commercially, and stuff in the middle is simply passed over.

Anyway, Happy New Year to all, and Happy Public Domain Day