Public Domain Day is January 1st of every year. If you live in Europe, January 1st 2016 would be the day when the works of Béla Bartók, Blind Willie Johnson, and Felix Salten enter the public domain.1 The works of Adolf Hitler will also enter the public domain, allowing a team of historians to publish a heavily annotated edition of Mein Kampf with around 3,500 academic annotations intended to “show how Hitler wove truth with half-truth and outright lie, and thus to defang any propagandistic effect while revealing Nazism.” Also entering the public domain are the works of authors and artists who tragically died in Hitler’s concentration camps, including Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Josef Čapek, and Anne Frank. This would enable projects such as the Anne Frank House museum’s expanded online version of Anne Frank’s diary, intended for release after its copyright expires. Unfortunately, this project could be under threat because the foundation that owns the copyright in the diary is attempting to prolong its copyright with a dubious legal claim.
Il Europa, le leggi sul copyright (dei libri) dicono che il copyright è valido per 70 anni dalla morte dell’autore. In America, dove il copyright continua a venire esteso, non ci sarà alcuna opera scritta che diventerà di pubblico dominio prima del 2019 — le opere che avrebbero dovuto diventare di pubblico dominio nel 2016 non lo saranno invece fino al 2055 (e oltre, se la durata venisse estesa ulteriormente).
Tutto questo limita la creatività e la creazione di opere derivate:
You would be free to use these books in your own stories, adapt them for local theater, or make them into a film. You could translate them into other languages, or create accessible Braille or audio versions.2 (If you think publishers wouldn’t object to this, you would be wrong.) You could read them online or buy cheaper print editions, because others were free to republish them. Empirical studies have shown that public domain books are less expensive, available in more editions and formats, and more likely to be in print—see here, here, and here. Imagine a digital Library of Alexandria containing all of the world’s books from 1959 and earlier, where, thanks to technology, you can search, link, annotate, copy and paste.