Happy Public Domain Day - January 1, 2009 - new additions to unpublished public domain in the U.S.

January 1 is Public Domain Day--the day when new works around the world come into the public domain. Some countries, the term of copyright is life of the author + seventy years, and in others it remains life of the author + fifty (in a very simplified version -- the students working on the Durationator software can attest to how complicated the term of a copyright can really be--we at Tulane Law School are working on a web-based tool that will help users determine the copyright status of a given work (book, photo, film, etc.) for use in the U.S. and abroad (in sixty countries) -- we are hoping to have a Beta version complete and available by the end of January.)

Today, I post about the new additions to the public domain.
Most exciting in the U.S. are unpublished works, which are also on a life of the author + 70 years system—with the caveat that if the works were created before 1978 but published or the first time between 1978 and 2002, the work gets additional protection through December 31, 2047. This applies to unpublished works throughout the world—regardless of the nationality of the author—when the work is used in the U.S.

Another interesting phenomenon is that the papers of those who perished in the Holocaust will soon—year by year—be in the public domain. This presents interesting practical as well as moral questions, I think. It will be interesting to see if this question of the new legal status of Holocaust artifacts gets attention from scholars. (See Holocaust timeline at http://www.historyplace.com/worldwar2/holocaust/timeline.html#1938)

The British Telegraph is reporting that in the UK, Popeye the Sailor is in the public domain because its creator, Elzie Segar, died at age 43 in 1938 (but not the trademark). See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/4017251/Popeyes-copyright-to-expire-i.... The works are now in the public domain in any life of the author plus seventy country but not in the U.S. Any unpublished works by Segar, however, are no win the public domain, as long as they were not first published between 1978 and 2002.

In India, where the term is life of the author plus sixty years, a high profile entrant is Mahatma Gandhi’s literary works, as he was assiginated on January 30, 1948. See more at http://www.financialexpress.com/news/copyright-on-mahatmas-works-goes-of...

It is still early in the day –but I am surprised that there is not more about Public Domain Day around on blogs. I’ve noticed a shift—where Public Domain Day is about dedicating works to the public domain. See, for example, Creative Commons at http://creativecommons.org/weblog/entry/11920

UPDATE: See also Everybody's Library with a terrific post about Public Domain Day by John Mark Ockerbloom (http://everybodyslibraries.com/2009/01/01/public-domain-day-2009-freeing...)


The death list for 1938 at Wikipedia is a useful place to begin: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1938#Deaths. Here is the wikipedia list, which also includes birth dates.
January 8 - Johnny Gruelle, American cartoonist and children's book author (Raggedy Ann) (b. 1880)
January 20 - Émile Cohl, French caricaturist and animator (b. 1857)
January 21 - Georges Méliès, French film director (A Trip To The Moon) (b. 1861)
January 28 - Bernd Rosemeyer, German racing driver (b. 1909)
February 2 - Frederick William Vanderbilt, American railway magnate (b. 1856)
February 7 - Harvey Firestone, American tire manufacturer (b. 1868)
February 18 - David King Udall, American politician (b. 1851)
February 19 - Edmund Landau, German mathematician (b. 1877)
March 1 - Gabriele D'Annunzio, Italian writer, war hero, and politician (b. 1863)
March 2 - Ben Harney, American composer and pianist (b. 1871)
March 13 - Nikolai Ivanovich Bukharin, Soviet politician (b. 1888)
March 13 - Clarence Darrow, American attorney (b. 1857)
April 8 - Joe "King" Oliver, African-American jazz musician (b. 1885)
April 12 - Feodor Chaliapin, Russian bass (b. 1873)
April 16 - Steve Bloomer, English footballer (b. 1874)
April 21 - Allama Iqbal, Indian philosopher and poet (b. 1877)
April 25 - Aleksander Świętochowski, Polish writer (b. 1849)
April 26 - Edmund Husserl, Austrian philosopher (b. 1859)
May 4 - Carl von Ossietzky, German pacifist, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (b. 1889)
May 9 - Thomas B. Thrige, Danish industrialist (b. 1866)
May 13 - Charles Edouard Guillaume, French physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1861)
May 26 - John Jacob Abel, American pharmacologist (b. 1857)
July 4 - Otto Bauer, Austrian Social Democratic politician (b. 1881)
August 1 - Edmund Charles Tarbell, American artist (b. 1862)
August 7 - Constantin Stanislavski, Russian theatre practitioner (b. 1863)
August 14 - Hugh Trumble, Australian test cricketer (b. 1876)
August 16 - Robert Johnson, African-American blues singer (b. 1911)
September 1 - Nikolai Bryukhanov, Soviet statesman and political figure who served as People's Commissar of Finances (b. 1878)
September 17 - Bruno Jasieński, Polish poet (b. 1901)
September 25 - Paul Olaf Bodding, Norwegian missionary to India and creator of the Santali latin alphabet (b. 1865)
October 2 - Alexandru Averescu, Romanian soldier and politician (b. 1859)
October 13 - E.C. Segar, American comics artist (Popeye)
October 17 - Karl Kautsky, Austrian Marxist theoretician (b. 1854)
October 22 - May Irwin, Canadian actress and singer (b. 1862)
October 24 - Ernst Barlach, German sculptor and poet (b. 1870)
October 27 - Lascelles Abercrombie, English poet and critic (b. 1881)
November 9 - Vasily Blyukher, Soviet military commander (b. 1889)
November 10 - Kemal Atatürk, President of Turkey (b. 1881)
November 20 - Maud of Wales, queen of Haakon VII of Norway (b. 1869)
November 30 - Corneliu Zelea Codreanu, Romanian fascist, leader of the Iron Guard (executed along other Guard activists) (b. 1899)
December 11 - Christian Lous Lange, Norwegian pacifist, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (b. 1869)
December 20 - Annie Armstrong, American missionary leader (b. 1850)
December 25 - Karel Čapek, Czech author (R.U.R.) (b. 1890)
December 28 - Florence Lawrence, Canadian actress (b. 1886)

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