Public Domain Works In 2011: What Could Have Been?

In the spirit of the Disinfo film RIP! A Remix Manifesto, the Center for the Study of the Public Domain goes dreaming and takes a look at classic works which would be entering the public domain in 2011, but for the passing of 1976′s restrictive Copyright Act. Among the cultural items to become freely available for quoting, remixing, and all other use would be books such as Waiting for Godot and Lord of the Flies, movies including On the Waterfront and Rear View Window, and the songs ‘Mr. Sandman’ and ‘Mambo Italiano.’

Current US law extends copyright protections for 70 years from the date of the author’s death. But prior to the 1976 Copyright Act (which became effective in 1978), the maximum copyright term was 56 years (an initial term of 28 years, renewable for another 28 years).

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  • Haystack

    That’s not the worst of it. As I understand it, *nothing* is due to enter the public domain until 2018.

  • Haystack

    That’s not the worst of it. As I understand it, *nothing* is due to enter the public domain until 2018.

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  • Belcat

    This stuff is so old, it is barely worth anything anyway (well, Lord of Flies rights are probably worth something because of the millions of schools which buy books). The only way any of it is worth anything is if someone remakes it again, which is going to be a fraction of the income, and there is a lot of the work is in the remake.

    • Haystack

      Are you kidding? The rights to Waiting for Godot alone would amount to a small fortune. These are books that sell in large numbers, every year, without any marketing, because they’re classics.

      • http://www.jayurbzz.com jayurbzz

        How does this “US Copyright Act” apply to British/French works (Huxley/Beckett)–we just don’t recognize the translated or American published versions anymore?

  • Belcat

    This stuff is so old, it is barely worth anything anyway (well, Lord of Flies rights are probably worth something because of the millions of schools which buy books). The only way any of it is worth anything is if someone remakes it again, which is going to be a fraction of the income, and there is a lot of the work is in the remake.

  • Haystack

    Are you kidding? The rights to Waiting for Godot alone would amount to a small fortune. These are books that sell in large numbers, every year, without any marketing, because they’re classics.

  • MCat

    When you’re capable of actual creativity, there’s no need to grieve what you aren’t able to appropriate. Just sayin’.

  • MCat

    When you’re capable of actual creativity, there’s no need to grieve what you aren’t able to appropriate. Just sayin’.

  • Anonymous

    How does this “US Copyright Act” apply to British/French works (Huxley/Beckett)–we just don’t recognize the translated or American published versions anymore?

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