'Bittersweet celebration': Thousands of works enter public domain decades after originally planned - The Chronicle
peter.suber's bookmarks 2019-01-30
" “Not a single creative work has gone into the public domain since 1998," said Jennifer Jenkins, clinical professor of law and director of Duke Law's Center for the Study of the Public Domain. "So the works that entered the public domain this year were supposed to go into the public domain in 1999."
But they didn't, due to an act of Congress that Jenkins attributed to "very successful lobbying and the lack of a thorough cost-benefit analysis." ...
“After 75 years, only a tiny percentage of creative works is generating commercial value whatsoever. Maybe 1 percent, maybe less," Jenkins said.
But if you want to tap into the other 99 percent, you're in luck, thanks to the internet. HathiTrust digital library has added more than 50,000 titles from 1923 to its online holdings.
Beyond accessing the works, the public domain also allows users to take creative liberties with them.
“You can cut, you can paste, you can annotate, you can translate, you can do whatever you want with it,” Jenkins said....
For Jenkins, welcoming the works into the public domain also highlights what could have been 20 years ago.
“It’s great that these works are finally entering the public domain," she said. "But it’s a bittersweet celebration, because under rational copyright terms the public domain would be much larger, much more robust.” ..."