Public Domain Day

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An English logo of the 2015/2016 Public Domain Day in Poland

Public Domain Day is an observance of when copyrights expire and works enter into the public domain.[1] This legal transition of copyright works into the public domain usually happens every year on 1 January based on the individual copyright laws of each country.[1]

The observance of a "Public Domain Day" was initially informal; the earliest known mention was in 2004 by Wallace McLean (a Canadian public domain activist),[2] with support for the idea echoed by Lawrence Lessig.[3] As of 1 January 2010 a Public Domain Day website lists the authors whose works are entering the public domain.[4] There are activities in countries around the world by various organizations all under the banner Public Domain Day.

Public domain

File:Julia Reda at Public Domain Day Celebration 2016.jpg
A public domain photo from a public domain celebration in 2016 (Brussels)

Copyright protection terms are typically described as the life of the author plus a certain number of years after his or her death (or pma: post mortem auctoris).[5] In many jurisdictions, this usually means that 70 years have passed since the day of author's death.[5] After that period, the works of those authors become fully available so that everyone - without any need for prior authorization - can access and use them for any purpose whatsoever.[5] Legally, this happens on New Year's Day (January 1).[6] That means that in those countries, the works of authors who died, anywhere in the world, in 1936, passed into public domain on 1 January 2007.

Since public domain rights vary based on jurisdiction, the passage of a work into the public domain is not worldwide.[7] The most noticeable exception is the United States, where no additional published works will enter the public domain automatically until 2019.[7][8] Australia's copyright scheme is even more restrictive, with no Public Domain Day possible until 2026.[9] Most of Europe will witness various works passing into the public domain, as will Canada and New Zealand.[3][5][7] Many more works would be entering the public domain if not for the copyright extension that has occurred several times in the past several decades.[10]

Public Domain Day in 2010 celebrated the entry to the public domain in many countries of the works of authors such as Sigmund Freud, William Butler Yeats, Ford Madox Ford and Arthur Rackham.[1] In 2011 it celebrated the public domain status of Isaac Babel, Walter Benjamin, John Buchan, Mikhail Bulgakov, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Emma Goldman, Paul Klee, Selma Lagerlof, Leon Trotsky, Vito Volterra, Nathanael West, and others.[11]


File:Domena publiczna 08 Polimerek 2.jpg
Public Domain Day celebration in Poland (2008)

It is not clear when Public Domain Day started to be observed (it was mentioned by Lawrence Lessig in 2004[3]) but in recent years it has been mentioned by Project Gutenberg[12] and has been promoted by Creative Commons.[13] Public Domain Day events have been hosted on various dates in Poland, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Israel.[14][15]

In January 2011, to celebrate Public Domain Day 2011, Open Knowledge Foundation launched the The Public Domain Review, a web-based review of works which have entered the public domain.[16][17]

In January 2012, a celebration was announced in Warsaw, Poland[18] and for the first time in Krakow[19]), where for several years on that day various activities have been organized by free culture NGOs (such as Koalicja Otwartej Edukacji and Open Society Institute) and other supporters.[20][21] Other 2012 events announced worldwide:[22]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Richmond, Shane (2010-01-01). "Happy Public Domain Day! Here's to many more – Telegraph Blogs". Retrieved 2011-12-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Happy Public Domain Day!, Wallace J.McLean, Jan 1, 2004.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Lessig, Lawrence (2004-01-01). "public domain day - in Canada (Lessig Blog)". Retrieved 2011-12-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Public Domain Day 2010 at MetaFilter establishes the existence of the website at the time.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 "About | Public Domain Day - 1 January 2012". Public Domain Day. Retrieved 2011-12-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "To celebrate the role of the public domain in our societies | Public Domain Day - 1 January 2012". Public Domain Day. Retrieved 2011-12-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 "Public Domain Day". Retrieved 2011-12-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Anderson, Nate (2010-01-04). "Nothing to celebrate on Public Domain Day 2010 in the US". Retrieved 2011-12-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Project Gutenberg Australia Newsletter February 2009". Retrieved 2011-12-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "What Could Have Been Entering the Public Domain on January 1, 2011?". 2011-01-01. Retrieved 2011-12-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Authors entering the Public Domain in 2011 | Public Domain Day - 1 January 2012". Public Domain Day. Retrieved 2011-12-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "January 1, 2011 is going to be Public Domain Day — Project Gutenberg News". 2011-09-24. Retrieved 2011-12-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Public Domain Day". Creative Commons. Retrieved 2011-12-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Carlos, Juan (2011-12-12). "Public Domain Day 2012 | International Communia Association". Retrieved 2011-12-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "PD Day Celebration at Haifa University". Haifa Center for Law and Technology, Haifa University. May 1, 2011. Retrieved 2012-01-27.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Launch of the Public Domain Review to celebrate Public Domain Day 2011", Open Knowledge Foundation blog, Jan 1, 2011.
  17. The Public Domain Review
  18. Jak świętowaliśmy Dzień Domeny Publicznej 2012 | Domena Publiczna
  19. Obchody Dnia Domeny Publicznej w Krakowie | Domena Publiczna
  20. "Report from Public Domain Day 2011 in Poland | Dzień Domeny Publicznej 2012" (in polski). 2010-12-31. Retrieved 2011-12-26.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "Dzień Domeny Publicznej 2012 | uwalniamy artefakty kultury!" (in polski). Retrieved 2011-12-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. "P.D. Day 2012 Celebrations". COMMUNIA. Retrieved 2011-12-30.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links