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Public Domain Day 2014 225

Posted by timothy
from the or-not-so-much dept.
An anonymous reader writes "What could have been entering the public domain in the US on January 1, 2014? Under the law that existed until 1978.... Works from 1957. The books On The Road, Atlas Shrugged, Empire of the Atom, and The Cat in the Hat, the films The Incredible Shrinking Man, The Bridge on the River Kwai, and 12 Angry Men, the article "Theory of Superconductivity," the songs "All Shook Up" and "Great Balls of Fire," and more.... What is entering the public domain this January 1? Not a single published work."
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Public Domain Day 2014

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  • Would it matter? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @12:56PM (#45830097)

    IIRC, U.S. courts recently decided that public-domain works could have their copyrights reinstated post facto.

    If anything from Disney did ever accidentally enter the public domain, Congress would fix that in short order.

  • by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @01:00PM (#45830157) Journal

    The books On The Road, Atlas Shrugged, ..., and The Cat in the Hat, the films The Incredible Shrinking Man

    "Hurry!" Dagny Taggart moaned. "Before he gets any smaller!"

    The strange cat in the hat grabbed the incredible shrinking man, who struggled mightily, but, being the size of a Barbie doll, could put up little resistance. "I'm gay, don't do this to me!"

    "Tough shit, little man! I know it is wet and the sun is not sunny, but we can have lots of good fun that is funny.” He took him and and slowly eased him feet first up ins

    GOD DAMN IT, this stuff is not public domain. Nevermind.

  • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @01:01PM (#45830159)

    It may still be illegal to download these things, but it's now much more difficult to argue that it's unethical to do so. Distributing these works should be considered an act of civil disobedience.

  • by maverickgunn (3480787) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @01:18PM (#45830345)

    The entire purpose of copyright was to serve as an incentive for creators to add to the public wealth of knowledge and art. It was mutually beneficial: they get public protection for their work, and the public receives high quality art.

    The corruption of copyright by the likes of Disney and other mega-conglomerates has polluted that purpose. Now, copyright is a legal bludgeon used to deprive the public of its culture while perpetually forcing them to pay to get it back.

    If they want perpetual ownership of their work, they should lose any public or legal protections of it: it's quid pro quo, and if they are unwilling to hold up their end, they should be required to hold up both.

  • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @01:29PM (#45830463)

    At least for Christians, it may be unethical to ignore bad copyright rules. In the Christian New Testament, St. Peter's first letter contains this passage:

    "Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor."

    A noteworthy thing here is that the letter carves out no exception regarding stupidly justified laws. (There are plenty of other places in the Bible that make it clear that it's okay for followers of God to disobey evil laws, however.)

  • Re:So? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @01:51PM (#45830707) Homepage Journal

    The question is, what can we do about it?

    Long copyrights are great for corporations but shitty for authors. There was a fellow a couple years ago who was sued for writing a sequel to "Catcher in the Rye", that book should be in the public domain.

    Insane copyright law is keeping The Paxil Diaries in electronic form and out of gutenberg.org because of twenty four words in the 80k word book. One chapter concerned the re-dedication of the Illinois State Library which was renamed to Illinois last late poet laureate's name. There was a 24 word poem displayed, which I copied with a pencil and used as the chapter's intro.

    That poem, written in 1961 by a woman now long dead should NOT be covered by copyright. I may publish the book with the poem replaced by a rant about our insane copyright laws if I can't get permission to use it (I think the state holds copyright but I don't know).

    Meanwhile, you can read Nobots [mcgrewbooks.com] for free online, I'm only charging for real books, which actually have a cost to print and distribute.

    I've written my congressmen and Senators, have you written yours?

  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @02:14PM (#45830917) Homepage Journal

    No. The Constitution clearly states the reason for patent and copyright (to get people to produce more works for the public domain) and states "for limited times". a lifetime plus 95 years is in no way limited, and there's no way to convince Jimi Hendrix to make any more music.

    The Constitution is the law of the land and the Bono Act breaks that law (yes, I know of the bullshit Lessig verdict). Therefore, NOT practicing civil disobedience is immoral (religion deals with morality, not ethics). Yes, it makes no exception for stupid laws but an illegal law is no law at all. And what would old Pete say if the Emperor had outlawed communion, tithing, and charity? What if he had outlawed Christianity itself (which Peter may have been wary of)?

    The meaning behind that passage is "don't make your fellow Christians look bad, the Emperor hates us enough as it is". And some of the right wing Obama-hating "Christians" should read that passage.

  • by jiriw (444695) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @02:21PM (#45830973) Homepage

    Are you "deprived" of food, because you have to pay for it?

    (3) If the person who has an abundance of it is unwilling to provide* at any reasonable price, yes.
    (4) If the food is purposely made** to spoil fast, sometimes even before you were able to take a bite from it.
    (5) If you have to pay the producer of your piece of food over and over again*** in full, if you want it to last or if you want to eat it in another venue than you originally intended.

    (* publishers that let works go 'out of print' but still prosecute 'alternative means of distribution'. It is called artificial scarcity and is something very common when dealing with monopolies.)
    (** certain DRM mechanisms come to mind.)
    (*** LP, Cassette, CD. Celluloid film, Video cassette, Laser disk, DVD, Blu-ray. Digital distribution with various restrictions. Multiple devices for playback, or the inability to be able to.)

  • by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @02:33PM (#45831111)
    The best argument I've heard for changing the laws dealing with public domain in the USA is that in these days of federal budget cutting and decreasing spending, if these copyrights are so valuable then why are they being renewed for free automatically? It would seem logical to make a change where those who want their copyrights to be extended could pay a fee, perhaps fairly large, and fill out some paperwork to get the copyright renewed. If they forget to fill out the forms in time and pay the fee in time, too bad. That's how it was some years ago. If you forgot to renew your copyright in time, you lost it. Congress could enact a sliding scale where the renewal fee increases exponentially. For example, say that all works get an original copy right period of 50 years. Then if renewal is desired, the copyright holder could pay $500,000 for a renewal period of 10 years. If they want the works renewed at the end of that period for another 10 years, the fee goes up to $5 million. The next 10 year period is $50 million. The one after that is $500 million, then $5 billion and so on. Eventually the cost will get prohibitive that nobody will pay it any more and works will enter the public domain. I really do not get how if these works are so valuable that they must be renewed that Congress has to let it be done for free and virtually forever. Unfortunately to date the US Supreme Court has basically ruled "We're not saying that we think that extending copyright is a great idea, but the Constitution does permit it. As long as the termination date is less than 'never', any extension is probably legal." Why is Congress giving away money in renewal fees if these works are truly so valuable that they must remain in copyright longer?
  • Re:it keeps us safe (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @02:52PM (#45831285)

    I have found that those most critical of Ayn Rand, and Atlas Shrugged in particular, have typically never read it. While it's a mildly interesting dystopian future novel, I've never fully understood either the praise or criticism it receives. For example you call it "unreadable", but I found it quite readable. It needed a better editor to trim out the fat, but you could say that about any James Michener novel as well. Her characters are one dimensional, especially the antagonists of the novel. That is probably my biggest gripe. Meanwhile some people seem to treat it like the Bible or similar. I read it once, and that was enough for me. I don't take my political ideology from novelists. I certainly don't pick and choose my reading material based on the ravings of left wing and right wing lunatics. So I can't understand how it is so influential, unless those who criticize it fear what it represents, and those who praise it can't think for themselves.

  • The Disney version. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by westlake (615356) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @05:08PM (#45832413)

    And the real irony is that Disney built its animated empire on stories in the public domain
    - Bambi? Nope, they stole that one too, from a 1923 work of Felix Salten

    It is never wise to take anything a geek says about Disney at face value.

    In 1933, Sidney Franklin, a producer and director at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, purchased the film rights to Felix Salten's novel Bambi, A Life in the Woods, intending to adapt it as a live-action film. After years of experimentation, he eventually decided that it would be too difficult to make such a film and he sold the film rights to Walt Disney in April 1937. Disney began work on crafting an animated adaptation immediately, intending it to be the company's second feature-length animated film and their first to be based on a specific, recent work.

    Bambi [wikipedia.org]

    Philip Pullman's Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version [amazon.com] retells fifty of these classic tales in a four hundred page book. Call it eight pages on average per story.

    That is barely enough material to sustain a one-act stage play.

    The truth is that the adaptation becomes memorable through its embellishments, its richness in detail. ''Hansel & Gretel'' at Columbia Marionette Theatre: A Sweet Artistic Triumph [jaspercolumbia.net]

    It isn't a generic Sleeping Beauty the geek wants to appropriate from Disney, it is Maleficent. [youtube.com]

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