A collage of works entering the public domain on this day.
Producing Various and Sundry Writing

Public Domain Day, 2024

Last year I mentioned making a Public Domain Day post a tradition and so: Happy New Year to All! Plus, welcome to the public domain for so many goodies.

For a great overview of said goodies on offer, check out this article from Aaron Moss over at Copyright Lately. Moss is an intellectual property attorney and is quite ready to delve deep into all things copyright. I appreciate that he goes beyond the much-covered fact that the “Steamboat Willie” Mickey Mouse is now in public domain and goes into other significant works, such as Virginia Woolf’s Orlando and Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle. Also, being a lawyer, he explains some of the caveats and asterisks of the copyrights so you may “celebrate responsibly.”

Meanwhile, Jennifer Jenkins, the director of the Duke Center for the Study of the Public Domain, has her usual thorough and thoroughly illuminating roundup of some of notable works entering the public domain. I especially admire her section about why the public domain is worth celebrating. This annual fuel supply to creativity was stopped for about 40 years and we shouldn’t take it for granted.

If you want a defense of the public domain with a bit more salt and vinegar, especially on that forty-year artificial freeze, you can also check out Cory Doctorow’s post on the 2024’s offerings. As you might imagine from the author of Chokepoint Capitalism, which I posted about last May, he does not find the current crop of corporate merchant princes to be the best cultural stewards.

Finally, my focus is works coming into the Public Domain in the United States as that’s where I live and create, but there are a variety of works entering various Venn diagrams of Public Domain throughout the world which is always covered by the aptly named Public Domain Review. You can also check out the Wikipedia page on the subject which lets you know differences in countries and so on.

May this year be a creative year.

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