What Will Enter the Public Domain in 2024? – The Public Domain Review

“At the start of each year, on January 1st, a new crop of works enter the public domain and become free to enjoy, share, and reuse for any purpose. Due to differing copyright laws around the world, there is no one single public domain — and here we focus on three of the most prominent. Newly entering the public domain in 2024 will be:

works by people who died in 1953, for countries with a copyright term of “life plus 70 years” (e.g. UK, Russia, most of EU and South America);
works by people who died in 1973, for countries with a term of “life plus 50 years” (e.g. New Zealand, and most of Africa and Asia);
films and books (incl. artworks featured) published in 1928 for the United States….”

Willingham Sends Fables Into the Public Domain

“As of now, 15 September 2023, the comic book property called Fables, including all related Fables spin-offs and characters, is now in the public domain. What was once wholly owned by Bill Willingham is now owned by everyone, for all time. It’s done, and as most experts will tell you, once done it cannot be undone. Take-backs are neither contemplated nor possible….”

Top EU Court Advisor Says Technical Standards, Like Laws, Should Not Be Locked Down By Copyright

One of the most pernicious ideas that copyright maximalism has spread is that preventing people from freely accessing creative material is not just a good thing to do, but should be the natural state of affairs. This has made questioning whether copyright is really the best way to support artists and promote creativity hard. Against that background, there’s an interesting opinion from one of the top EU court’s special advisers, known as advocates general, suggesting a situation in which copyright definitely should not be applied. The Court of Justice of the European Union’s press release explains the background:

Public.Resource.Org Inc. and Right to Know CLG are two non-profit organisations whose focus is to make the law freely accessible to all citizens. The organisations had challenged before the [EU] General Court a Commission Decision refusing to grant them access to four harmonised technical standards (HTS) adopted by the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) with respect to the safety of toys in particular. As their challenge was unsuccessful, they appealed the General Court judgment before the Court of Justice.

In today’s Opinion, Advocate General Laila Medina looks into the question whether the rule of law as well as the principle of transparency and the right of access to documents of EU institutions require that HTS are freely available without charge.

The conclusion reached by Advocate General Laila Medina is straightforward:

for the purposes of EU law in general and for the access to EU law in particular, and, given HTS indispensable role in the implementation of EU secondary legislation and their legal effects, they should, in principle, not benefit from copyright protection.


even if HTS could be protected by copyright, free access to the law has priority over copyright protection.

The basic idea is simple: people can’t be expected to follow a law (or technical standard) if they don’t have ready access to it. Copyright is a barrier to access, and therefore should not be allowed for harmonized technical standards (HTS), just as it is not permitted for EU laws. And even if for some reason HTS were subject to copyright, free access must be granted anyway, blunting its negative impact.

It’s worth emphasizing that the Advocate General’s opinion is only advisory, and may be ignored by the main court when the latter issues its final judgment on the case. Nonetheless, it’s great to see one of the EU’s top legal authorities dare to go against today’s orthodoxy that copyright is so wonderful it should be applied to everything, no exceptions.

Follow me @glynmoody on Mastodon. Originally published to WalledCulture.

Michelangelo’s David and cultural heritage images. The Italian pseudo-intellectual property and the end of public domain – Kluwer Copyright Blog

“On 20 April 2023, the Italian Civil Court of first instance of Florence (Tribunale civile di Firenze) issued a decision that held unlawful the reproduction by lenticular technique of the image of Michelangelo’s David and its juxtaposition with the image of a male model on the cover of GQ magazine. The reproduction was not authorized by the public museum Gallerie degli Uffizi in Florence where the masterpiece is kept….

These recent controversies over the commercial use of images of Michelangelo’s David and Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man emerge from the Italian courts’ decisions while – paradoxically – the reproduction of the image of Botticelli’s Venus for the Italian Ministry of Tourism’s “Open to meraviglia” advertising campaign triggered a controversy about the role of the (Italian) State as custodian of (humanity’s) cultural heritage. In other words, the use of a modified version of The Birth of Venus by Botticelli in the advertising campaign demonstrates that the Italian State, on the one hand purports to decide when the use of cultural heritage is compatible with the “cultural heritage’s scope”, while on the other hand finds it natural to use a controversial modification of a masterpiece like The Birth of Venus to promote tourism….

At the same time, the Italian Ministry of Culture has published new “Guidelines for the determination of the minimum amounts of fees and charges for the concession of use of property handed over to state institutes and places of culture of the Ministry of Culture (Ministerial Decree of April 11, 2023, No. 161)”. These new Guidelines have also triggered a heated debate: some learned societies and scientific associations have raised concerns about the application of the Guidelines to academic publishing. For example, according to the Guidelines, a university press has to pay the Public Sector (Ministry of Culture or public museum) for the reproduction, in a book, of images of public cultural property. As in the Tribunale di Venezia and Tribunale di Firenze’s decisions, the idea is to transform the State into a commercial actor competing with other companies in the market of the commercial reproduction of cultural heritage images….

This conceptual confusion hides the real interest at stake: the creation of a new form of pseudo-intellectual property (in this case, a pseudo-copyright) that would attribute to the Italian State the power to exclusively control the commercial use of cultural heritage images….”

Good data practices: Removing barriers to data reuse with CC0 licensingDryad news

“Why is CC0 a great choice for open data? Learn to love this frequently misunderstood license waiver.

Authors who submit data to Dryad are asked to consent to the publication of their data under the The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication, more commonly known as CC0. In doing so, authors are being asked to confirm that any materials that have been previously published by another author or working group were published under conditions compatible with CC0 and that they agree to novelly publish any previously unpublished materials under this waiver. 

Given the continually evolving research landscape, our curation team frequently receives questions about what CC0 means in relation to their data. Let’s review the advantages of CC0 as well as some common concerns and misconceptions that we encounter to guide researchers in data sharing and to explain why we only publish data under CC0….”

Data Rivers: Carving Out the Public Domain in the Age of Generative AI by Sylvie Delacroix :: SSRN

Abstract:  The salient question, today, is not whether ‘copyright law [will] allow robots to learn’. The pressing question is whether the fragile data ecosystem that makes generative AI possible can be re-balanced through intervention that is timely enough. The threats to this ecosystem come from multiple fronts. They are comparable in kind to the threats currently affecting ‘water rivers’ across the globe.

First, just as the fundamental human right to water is only possible if ‘reasonable use’ and reciprocity constraints are imposed on the economic exploitation of rivers, so is the fundamental right to access culture, learn and build upon it. It is that right -and the moral aspirations underlying it- that has led millions to share their creative works under ‘open’ licenses. Generative AI tools would not have been possible without access to that rich, high-quality content. Yet few of those tools respect the reciprocity expectations without which the Creative Commons and Open-Source movements cease to be sustainable. The absence of internationally coordinated standards to systematically identify AI-generated content also threatens our ‘data rivers’ with irreversible pollution.

Second, the process that has allowed large corporations to seize control of data and its definition as an asset subject to property rights has effectively enabled the construction of hard structures -canals or dams- that has led to the rights of many of those lying up-or downstream of such structures to be ignored. While data protection laws seek to address those power imbalances by granting ‘personal’ data rights, the exercise of those rights remains demanding, just as it is challenging for artists to defend their IP rights in the face of AI-generated works that threaten them with redundancy.

To tackle the above threats, the long overdue reform of copyright can only be part of the required intervention. Equally important is the construction of bottom-up empowerment infrastructure that gives long term agency to those wishing to share their data and/or creative works. This infrastructure would also play a central role in reviving much-needed democratic engagement. Data not only carries traces of our past. It is also a powerful tool to envisage different futures. There is no doubt that tools such as GPT4 will change us. We would be fools to believe we may leverage those tools at the service of a variety of futures by merely imposing sets of ‘post-hoc’ regulatory constraints.

The World Wide Web became available to the broader public 30 years ago : NPR

“But 30 years ago this week, that all changed. On April 30, 1993, something called the World Wide Web launched into the public domain….

CERN owned Berners-Lee’s invention…, and the lab had the option to license out the World Wide Web for profit. But Berners-Lee believed that keeping the web as open as possible would help it grow….

Berners-Lee eventually convinced CERN to release the World Wide Web into the public domain without any patents or fees. He has since attributed the runaway success of the web to that single decision….”

The Smithsonian Puts 4.5 Million High-Res Images Online and Into the Public Domain, Making Them Free to Use | Open Culture

“More items are being added to Smithsonian Open Access all the time, each with its own story to tell — and all accessible not just to Americans, but internet users the world over. In that sense it feels a bit like the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, better known as the World’s Columbian Exposition, with its mission of revealing America’s scientific, technological, and artistic genius to the whole of human civilization. You can see a great many photos and other artifacts of this landmark event at Smithsonian Open Access, or, if you prefer, you can click the “just browsing” link and behold all the historical, cultural, and formal variety available in the Smithsonian’s digital collections, where the spirit of Columbia lives on.”

Entering the Public Domain | Princeton University Library

“At the beginning of this year, Princeton University Library (PUL) launched its “In the Public Domain” digital collection, a curated selection of books entering the public domain starting in the year 2020 (or those published in 1924) that have been chosen by the librarians in PUL’s Special Collections Department….”

Explore how Europeana Subtitled increased access to audiovisual heritage | Europeana Pro

“Europeana Subtitled gathered seven major national broadcasters and audiovisual archives from seven European countries to provide high-quality audiovisual materials to Europeana. The project combined AI technology and audiovisual cultural heritage to produce high-quality closed captions and English subtitles for local video content, and created a platform to allow organisations to run crowdsourcing campaigns to revise captions using state of the art editing tools. 

Europeana Subtitled also supported cultural heritage professionals with the use of automatic speech recognition (ASR) and machine translation (MT) technologies in the cultural sector through an online training suite consisting of video tutorials, documentation and guidelines, and worked with teachers and museum educators to create learning resources with audiovisual content. 

Finally, the project engaged audiences through crowdsourcing events and editorial activities on the Europeana website, in particular, through the ‘Broadcasting Europe’ page and ‘Mass-media and propaganda’ online exhibition….

The Subtitled content is publicly available and videos can be enjoyed directly on the Europeana website, while you can also access freely reusable content with more than 3,000 records in the Public Domain….”

CC Needs Assessment Report on Public Domain Tools in Cultural Heritage Sector Unveils Key Insights

Today Creative Commons is proud to release our report on the Needs Assessment entitled Are the Creative Commons Public Domain Tools Fit-For-Purpose in the Cultural Heritage Sector?. From 1 January (Public Domain Day) to 15 February 2022, we ran a multilingual online survey using Google Forms to share a 50-question questionnaire in English, French and … Read More “CC Needs Assessment Report on Public Domain Tools in Cultural Heritage Sector Unveils Key Insights”

The post CC Needs Assessment Report on Public Domain Tools in Cultural Heritage Sector Unveils Key Insights appeared first on Creative Commons.

The People’s Access to Information: How Definitions of Ownership Influence the Public Domain: The Serials Librarian: Vol 0, No 0

Abstract:  The following article is a composite review and critique of copyright systems in the United States and their impacts upon creators and individuals alike. The public domain is rapidly dwindling due to changes in copyright law that have greatly prolonged the length of copyright protections. The primary beneficiaries of these increased protections are the large entertainment corporations that can easily afford to contest what, in many cases, would otherwise be considered fair use of copyrighted material. This article argues the substantial need for collective action and stewardship of publicly owned information in order to generate a better and stronger public domain.


Librarians Are Finding Thousands Of Books No Longer Protected By Copyright Law

“The New York Public Library (NYPL) has been reviewing the U.S. Copyright Office’s official registration and renewals records for creative works whose copyrights haven’t been renewed, and have thus been overlooked as part of the public domain. 

The books in question were published between 1923 and 1964, before changes to U.S. copyright law removed the requirement for rights holders to renew their copyrights. According to Greg Cram, associate general counsel and director of information policy at NYPL, an initial overview of books published in that period shows that around 65 to 75 percent of rights holders opted not to renew their copyrights….”