Public Domain Blog–New Authors in the Public Domain…01.05.09

5 01 2009

From the Public Domain blog [] which lists new authors in the public domain:

“…January 1st, which means that this morning at midnight a batch more ‘life-plus’ copyrights expired in those countries — most of them — where copyright expires at the end of the Nth year following the death of the author.

Yes, folks, it’s Public Domain Day! And it’s international! There are little Public Domain Day virtual commemorations going on in places like Poland and Switzerland. Spread the word!

In the life+50 universe, which constitute the largest cohort of countries, including Canada, which collectively have the majority of the world’s population, life-plus copyrights expired at midnight for those authors, or last-surviving of multiple authors, who died in 1958. Some notable life+50 entries into the public domain include life+50 copyrights for authors such as:

Australian politician (and sheep breeder) James Guthrie (“A world history of sheep and wool”)
American film composer Edward H. Plumb (“Bambi” and many other Disney films)
American hymnist George Bennard (“The Old Rugged Cross”)
British painter and illustrator Lucy Kemp-Welch (the original edition of “Black Beauty”)
American screenwriter Jack Henley (“Bonzo Goes to College”)
American writer J. P. McEvoy (“Dixie Dugan”)
American author Betty MacDonald (“Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle”)
British poet Robert Service (“The Cremation of Sam McGee”, etc.)
English poet Alfred Noyes (“The Highwayman”)
English music scholar Percy Scholes (“The Oxford Companion to Music”)
American artist and author Marjorie Flack (“The Story About Ping”)
American writer Johnston McCulley (creator of “Zorro”)
British aircraft manufacturer Alliott Verdon Roe (as in Avro, as in the Arrow)
Serbian geophysicist Milutin Milanković (early proponent of ice ages)
British author and translator Lionel Giles (translator of the most widely-published English edition of Sun-Tzu’s “Art of War”)
Romanian-British rabbi and scholar Shulem Moshkovitz (the Shotzer Rebbe)
American financial analyst John Moody (of Wall Street fame)

A more extensive, but nowhere near complete list is reproduced below. See also Wikipedia’s list of deaths in 1958 and the New General Catalog of Old Books and Authors 1958 deaths page.

Across the pond in the European Union, some other non-EU countries, and certain other countries around the world, being the second-largest copyright universe where the general term is “life plus seventy”, copyrights by sole authors, or the last-surviving of multiple authors, who died in 1938, expired today. 1938 was an especially bad year in Europe, where many literary, scientific, political, and religious creators fell victim to Nazi persecution and Stalinist purges.

Some of the more interesting members of the 1938 class of deceased authors include:

Danish bacteriologist Hans Christian Gram (of Gram staining fame) 
British-Canadian author, conservationist, and literary fraud Archie Belaney (Grey Owl) 
Latvian-born ethnologist and musicologist Abraham Zevi Idelsohn (to whom the lyrics to “Hava Nagila” are attributed) 
American cartoonist E. C. Segar (creator of “Popeye”) 
American illustrator Johnny Gruelle (creator of “Raggedy Ann”) 
American lawyer Clarence Darrow (of “Scopes Monkey Trial” fame) 
American songwriter James Thornton (“When You Were Sweet Sixteen”, written in 1898) 
Japanese martial artist Kano Jigoro (founder of judo) 
American industrialist Harvey Samuel Firestone (of tire fame)

A more extensive, but again far from complete list is reproduced below. See also Wikipedia’s list of deaths in 1938 and the New General Catalog of Old Books and Authors 1938 deaths page…”


“The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind” Sounds Like a Good Read on Copyright…11.30.08

30 11 2008

He is a book review by Cory Doctorow [] on BoingBoing that made me want to place it on my reading list although copyright/copyfight has not been a major point of interest with me:

“Jamie Boyle, of the Duke Center for the Public Domain, has a new book out, The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind. Boyle ranks with Lessig, Benkler and Zittrain as one of the most articulate, thoughtful, funny and passionate thinkers in the global fight for free speech, open access, and a humane and sane policy on patents, trademarks and copyrights. A legal scholar who can do schtick like a stand-up comedian, Boyle is entertaining as well as informative.

I’ve got a copy on its way to me, but while I’m waiting, I’m delighted to discover that Jamie talked his publisher, Yale University Press, into offering the book as a free, CC-licensed download. And right there, in the preface, I’m hooked:

Each person has a different breaking point. For one of my students it was United States Patent number 6,004,596 for a “Sealed Crustless Sandwich.” In the curiously mangled form of English that patent law produces, it was described this way:A sealed crustless sandwich for providing a convenient sandwich without an outer crust which can be stored for long periods of time without a central filling from leaking outwardly. The sandwich includes a lower bread portion, an upper bread portion, an upper filling and a lower filling between the lower and upper bread portions, a center filling sealed be- tween the upper and lower fillings, and a crimped edge along an outer perimeter of the bread portions for sealing the fillings there between. The upper and lower fillings are preferably comprised of peanut butter and the center filling is comprised of at least jelly. The center filling is pre- vented from radiating outwardly into and through the bread portions from the surrounding peanut butter.

‘But why does this upset you?’ I asked; ‘you’ve seen much worse than this.’ And he had. There are patents on human genes, on auctions, on algorithms. The U.S. Olympic Committee has an expansive right akin to a trademark over the word ‘Olympic’ and will not permit gay activists to hold a ‘Gay Olympic Games.’ The Supreme Court sees no First Amendment problem with this. Margaret Mitchell’s estate famously tried to use copyright to prevent Gone With the Wind from being told from a slave’s point of view. The copyright over the words you are now read- ing will not expire until seventy years after my death; the men die young in my family, but still you will allow me to hope that this might put it close to the year 2100. Congress periodically considers legislative proposals that would allow the ownership of facts. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act gives content providers a whole array of legally protected digital fences to en- close their work. In some cases it effectively removes the privilege of fair use. Each day brings some new Internet horror story about the excesses of intellectual property. Some of them are even true. The list goes on and on. (By the end of this book, I hope to have convinced you that this matters.) With all of this going on, this enclosure movement of the mind, this locking up of symbols and themes and facts and genes and ideas (and eventually people), why get excited about the patenting of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? ‘I just thought that there were limits,’ he said; ‘some things should be sacred.'”