Every year on January 1st hundreds of works enter the public domain around the world. So how do we know which works will come of age in 2011?

Like last year we are keen to get a picture of this well in advance so we can start planning celebrations for Public Domain Day 2011 (see here for our round up of the 2010 highlights!).

First off, we can get a rough idea from the data and calculators that are live on our Public Domain Works project:

We are going to be loading a lot more data (e.g. from the British Library and Cambridge University Library) into project very soon, and we also planning to update the calculation code in the light of continued work on the public domain calculators — so watch this space!

To make sure we haven’t missed anyone, we can cross-reference this with bigger lists of notable people (not just creators) who died in 1940, such as one can find on Wikipedia:

Furthermore one can use structured data sources (such as DBpedia faceted search) to do more sophisticated things such as searching for people who died in 1940 who were artists, novelists, or poets.

This gives us the following basic list of famous creators whose work will enter the public domain in 2011 (in many, but unfortunately not all, jurisdictions):

  • Isaac Babel
  • Walter Benjamin
  • John Buchan
  • Mikhail Bulgakov
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Emma Goldman
  • Paul Klee
  • Selma Lagerlof
  • Leon Trotsky
  • Vito Volterra
  • Nathanael West

There are some links to other potentially interesting figures listed at:

Over the following few weeks we’re going to start planning for Public Domain Day 2011. This will hopefully include the launch of a new site for reviews of public domain works:

The excellent European COMMUNIA project is also starting to plan and coordinate activities in this area, which will be collated on their Public Domain Day site!

If you are interested in doing something for Public Domain Day 2011, please add your ideas to the planning pad and/or join the discussion list at:

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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.

14 thoughts on “Which works enter the public domain in 2011?”

    1. I believe you are correct, since he passed on in 1940. 1990 would make it 50 years after death, which in some countries would qualify for transfer into the public domain.

  1. Every year on January 1st hundreds of works enter the public domain around the world. So how do we know which works will come of age in 2011?To make sure we haven

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  3. A couple of years ago a program came out called “Public Domain Riches”. It teaches how to find, re-package, and sale Public Domain content. I was wondering what you thought about people making money off of others works?

    1. I think the original authors have had long enough to profit off their works by the time copyright expires. At some point we have to acknowledge the good of society as a whole over the profit of an entity.

  4. Once things enter the public domain, people will be all over them creating ebooks, kindle books, websites, you name it. Adding to information overload but in many cases also bringing very worthwhile things to public notice. I do favor the electronic uses as there is far too much paper ending up in landfills.

  5. Most of these people didn’t do much or their work is highly over rated, but there a few works that will need to be listed in bold. Each year in January it’s like Christmas all over again.

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