Guest Post by Arnetta Girardeau, Duke University Libraries, Copyright & Information Policy Consultant
As you may have already heard, January 1, 2019 marked a very, very special “Public Domain Day.” When Congress extended the term of copyright in 1998 through the Copyright Term Extension Act, it set off a long, cold public-domain winter. For twenty years, no work first published in the United States entered the public domain. But now, spring is here! On January 1, 2019, works first published in 1923 became free to use. And in 2020, works first published in 1924 will enter the public domain, and so on and so on! It’s exciting stuff. What does that mean to us as creators, makers, teachers, or writers? It means that we suddenly have access to more materials to rework, reuse, and remix! Works such as Charlie Chaplain’s The Pilgrim, Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Links, and “The Charleston.”
Throughout the year and across the country, festivities are planned—including a live streamed panel at the US Copyright Office on January 16, and a incredible lineup of speakers and talks at a live event, “A Grand Re-Opening of the Public Domain,” co-hosted by Creative Commons and the Internet Archive in San Francisco on January 25.
At Duke, we’re celebrating this introduction of new materials into the Public Domain with a competition to showcase what our community can do with the public domain. We want to see how Duke faculty, staff, and students can use items from 1923 and earlier, all of which are now in the Public Domain! We have provided a few representative images along with this post, but feel free to create with any works that you find that are in the public domain (if you have questions about what is and isn’t in the public domain, you can contact us and we’d be happy to talk!) Selected entries will be posted on the blog and on Library social media. We have a small number of giveaways to thank you for participating.
What can you do?
- Write new lyrics to a song
- Create a wallpaper for your mobile phone
- Make a work of art
- Create a score for a silent movie made in 1923.
What else do you need to know?
Any member of the Duke community may enter. Faculty, staff, students, and retirees are all welcome.
- Multiple entries are allowed;
- Send in entries between January 9 and January 31 at midnight;
- Use public domain content;
- Submit your entries here https://duke.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_035Q9SkqV5RGmZ7
You can read more about the Public Domain in this article by the Duke Law Center for the Study of the Public Domain.
Thanks to the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library for providing many of the images!
If you have any questions about entering the showcase, or how to incorporate other people’s work into your own, consult the Arnetta Girardeau, Copyright and Information Policy Consultant, at firstname.lastname@example.org.