On the first of January every year works from around the world fall out of copyright and into the public domain. But, how do we know which works fall into the public domain when?
In previous years there have been blog posts about this – for example, see the Everybody’s Libraries posts from 1st January 2008 and 1st January 2009. In preparation for Public Domain Day 2010, we decided to prepare our own list of authors who’s works fall into the public domain this coming January.
You can find the list of 563 authors on our Public Domain Works project, which is a simple registry of artistic works that are in the public domain:
The list can be sorted by author surname, birth date, death date and number of works by clicking on the relevant headings. Notable authors include the poets William Butler Yeats and Osip Mandelstam, as well as the father of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud
While this starts to answer the question What works fall into the public domain this year?, the calculation is still very basic and we hope to improve the list in two main ways:
- The results above are based on a crude life+70 computation of copyright expiry (and associated entry into the public domain). This is almost certainly wrong for some jurisdictions and for some types of work. The Public Domain Calculators project is actively working to produce jurisdiction-specific algorithms for precisely determining public domain status. Once complete this effort will be integrated into the calculations presented here. If you’d like to help out with a calculator in your jurisdiction, please get in touch!
- The list is not comprehensive – and there are many authors, composers, artists and other creators which we are missing. To improve the list we need better data about authors and works – whether from library catalogues, or other archives of information about creative works. If you know where we might be able to get hold of such data, we’d love to hear from you!
Dr. Jonathan Gray is Lecturer in Critical Infrastructure Studies at the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London, where he is currently writing a book on data worlds. He is also Cofounder of the Public Data Lab; and Research Associate at the Digital Methods Initiative (University of Amsterdam) and the médialab (Sciences Po, Paris). More about his work can be found at jonathangray.org and he tweets at @jwyg.