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Happy Public Domain Day!

While New Year's Day is an occasion for great celebrations worldwide, we shouldn't forget another special reason to celebrate January 1st: Public Domain Day! In several countries, this day marks the expiration of copyright protection terms on creative works produced by authors who died several decades earlier (1939, for this 01/01/2010). Therefore such works enter the Public Domain, and their content is no longer owned or controlled by anyone but it rather becomes available for anyone to freely use for any purpose. In other words, on each year's January 1st an impressive wealth of knowledge, information and beauty becomes freely available to humankind.

To celebrate this occasion, COMMUNIA is promoting a new website devoted to Public Domain Day: http://www.publicdomainday.org. This project aims at increasing the public awareness of this celebration and educating about the Public Domain concept and its potentialities for spreading culture and knowledge worldwide. The website is particularly focused on this Public Domain Day 2010, providing useful resources (Countries' copyright terms, Public Domain calculators, related sites and databases, etc.) and a detailed list of authors and artists who died in 1939 and now enter the Public Domain (only in certain countries, since copyright regulations differ in the various countries and often require a lawyer opinion). Among the over 600 names included in that list, at least in selected jurisdictions, there are Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis; William Butler Yeats, one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature; Alphonse Maria Mucha, a renowned Czech Art Nouveau painter and decorative artist.

Unfortunately in the US there is little to celebrate because no published works will be entering the public domain until 2019. But the Center for the Study of Public Domain at Duke University (a COMMUNIA member) published a very informative website to mark the event. Other initiatives to celebrate Public Domain Day are planned in Poland and in Switzerland. And here is a COMMUNIA Press Release (in PDF format) for further distribution. [31dec09]

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