When discussing OER, we often devote a lot of time to Creative Commons licenses which are excellent tools for bestowing creative works with the 5R’s (Reuse, Remix, Revise, Retain, & Redistribute). However, in addition to Creative Commons, there is an even older designation that grants the privileges of the 5R’s with absolutely zero limits.
It is the public domain!
Public domain transfers all of the copyrights that were originally granted to an author (reproduction of the work, public performances of the work, translation of the work, adaptation of the work, etc…) to the public, in other words, works in the public domain are no longer copyrighted. Therefore anything in the public domain is perfectly poised to be utilized as an OER.
Due to the Sony Bono Copyright Extension Act of 1998, the United States public domain was frozen for a twenty year period. January 1st , 2019 was the first year that a large swath of creative works entered the public domain, specifically works from 1923 including Robert Frost’s poem “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening” and Cecile B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments. These works and anything else published before 1923 can be freely posted to the internet for public use and interpretation.
Which brings us to…Public Domain Day 2020!
On January 1st, 2020, works published in 1924 will finally enter the public domain, including:
So this New Year’s Day, in addition to watching the Rose Bowl and eating black-eyed peas, you can enjoy the newly increased wealth of creative works that now belong to you, the public. You could film an adaptation of The Box-Car Children and score it with Rhapsody in Blue and have Poirot make an appearance. You could publicly recite a passage from A Passage to India. You get to decide because you have the power, the power of the public domain.
*Note – for musical works it is only the composition that is entering the public domain, not recordings.
Douglas, N. (2019). These 1924 Copyrighted Works Enter the Public Domain in 2020. Retrieved from https://lifehacker.com/these-1924-copyrighted-works-enter-the-public-domain-in-1839612665
Stanford University Libraries. (2019). Welcome to the Public Domain. Retrieved from https://fairuse.stanford.edu/overview/public-domain/welcome/
This was written by Ellie, you can contact AskUs with questions.