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This year we have a real “public domain day” in the United States. On January 1, a number of films, books, songs, and artistic works once protected by US copyright, and all from the year 1923, will suddenly be in the public domain. So starting today (January 1) anyone can freely read, cite, or republish. And that includes Marcel Duchamp’s original “The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass)” (1915–23), which is housed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Huzzah!
What does this all mean? It means you can do as you please with these works (as long as your local laws don’t restrict that), so Google Books will now offer the full text of books from that year, instead of showing only snippet views or authorized previews — to use one of the most commonly used examples.
Those books include Kahil Gibran’s The Prophet, Virginia Woolf’s Jacob’s Room, Agatha Christie’s The Murder on the Links, Marcel Proust’s The Prisoner (La Prisonnière, vol. 5 of In Search of Lost Time), William Carlos Williams’s The Great American Novel, H. G. Wells’s Men Like Gods, or any poem from Robert Frost’s Pulitzer Prize-winning compendium New Hampshire.
In terms of cinema, movie theaters can now screen Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments, Charlie Chaplin’s The Pilgrim, Buster Keaton’s Our Hospitality, or Rin Tin Tin’s Where the North Begins. That also means theater companies can perform songs from Noël Coward’s London Calling! or George Gershwin’s Stop Flirting without cost. The Chip Woman’s Fortune, the first drama by an African-American author produced on Broadway also enters the public domain today.
Some other notable art works that are included in the class of 2019?
- Duino Elegies by Rainer Maria Rilke (original German version)
- Tulips and Chimneys by E.E. Cummings
- Poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay
- Antic Hay by Aldous Huxley
- A Son at the Front by Edith Wharton
- Kangaroo by D. H. Lawrence.
- The White Rose directed by D.W. Griffith
- Robert Delaunay, “Portrait of Tristan Tzara”
- Max Ernst, “Pietà or Revolution by Night”
- M. C. Escher, “Dolphins”
- George Grosz, Ecce Homo portfolio of lithographs
- Wassily Kandinsky, “On White II”
- Henri Matisse, “Odalisque with Raised Arms and Window at Tangier”
- Pablo Picasso, “The Pipes of Pan and Paulo on a Donkey”
And how did the US copyright laws become so strange? Blame Mickey Mouse. As The Verge explains (and we have elsewhere):
Welcoming classic works to the public domain was an annual New Year’s Day tradition. Charlie Chaplin’s 1921 directorial debut, The Kid, became public on January 1st, 1997, and was joined by the 1922 German horror classic Nosferatu a year later. But in 1998, Congress extended the length of copyright from 75 years to 95, or from 50 to 70 years after the author’s death. The result of the legislation was to effectively prevent any new works from entering the public domain.
Lawmakers argued the legislation was necessary to protect the revenues of US entertainment industry, and bring US law into line with European law — but it was really about protecting Mickey Mouse. The first Mickey Mouse cartoons were released in 1928, and the new rules extended Disney’s control of the copyright until at least 2023.
However, on January 1st 2019, the first works protected by the CTEA’s new 95 year limit will expire.
Btw, if you think bad things happen when works that enter the Public Domain, you should read this blog post by Theodora Middleton.
“Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants—11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data—a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were…
he ownership of images has a long and nuanced legal history, which has evolved dramatically in recent years as cultural standards and photographic technologies have rapidly advanced
The show, which honors the 50th anniversary of an exhibition history once ignored, continues a series of projects documenting Wilmington’s contemporary art scene.
Renty and his daughter Delia. Renty was an enslaved African, kidnapped from the Congo, sold and forced into slave labor on the South Carolina plantation of B.F. Taylor
What is the relation between possessing a person, possessing their image, and dispossessing their progeny
As a scholar of African American history and photography whose work has focused on the status of violent images in museums and archives, I fully support the validity of Ms. Tamara Lanier’s claim and the amicus brief.
Two K-12 art teachers will each receive a $1,000 cash gift and an additional $500 to put toward classroom art supplies. Nominations are due October 31.
The daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor, Delia, Drana, Alfred, Jack, George Fassena, and Jem remained in an unused storage cabinet until 1975, when it was discovered by an employee of the Peabody Museum.
I am writing in support of the amicus curiae brief submitted by Professor Ariella Aïsha Azoulay of Brown University for the full restitution of the daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor and his daughter Delia, currently held by Harvard University, to their familial descendant, Tamara Lanier.
We cannot be indifferent to the long-lasting effects of photography. The photographs at the center of Lanier v. Harvard are relentless in making Renty and Delia Taylor work and perform as slaves. The pain inflicted on them has not ceased. Photography has the capacity to propagate harm, and we have the moral obligation to interrupt…