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Public Domain Day: Report from Poland

1 January 2011The third edition of the Public Domain Day celebration was organised at Warsaw's National Library by the Coalition for Open Education with support from Open Society Institute. Coalition is a group of non-governmental organisations and institutions working in the fields of education, science and culture and promote open access to knowledge. This years' celebration was focused on presentation of projects and initiatives that are realised and implemented by Polish resource-sharing culture institutions. All presented ideas are based on Public Domain resources and use them in different ways and on different levels in education, science and culture.

Dr. Tomasz Makowski, director general of the National Library and Bozena Bednarek-Michalska from University Library in Toruñ explained reasons why we should stress the importance of Public Domain in Poland and around the world. Bozena Bednarek-Michalska underlined the significant quote from James Boyle's book: "Our markets, our democracy, our science, our traditions of free speech, and our art all depend more heavily on a Public Domain of freely available material than they do on the informational material that is covered by property rights. The Public Domain is not some gummy residue left behind when all the good stuff has been covered by property law. The Public Domain is the place we quarry the building blocks of our culture. It is, in fact, the majority of our culture." (James Boyle, The Public Domain, p.40f, 2008). [13jan11]

How to foster the digitisation of public domain material across Europe?

A report related to the "i2010: Digital Libraries Initiative" has just been released (as a pdf file). The project sets out to make all Europe’s cultural resources and scientific records accessible to all, and preserve it for future generations - with a key goal to further develop the Europeana portal.

Within the context of such initiative, on 28 October 2010 representatives from COMMUNIA and La Quadrature du Net participated in Brussels in a public hearing of the "Comité des Sages" on Bringing Europe's Cultural Heritage Online. The hearing minutes are now available as a pdf file as well, including the specific recommendations provided by COMMUNIA on public domain issues.

Among other considerations, the final report states: "The Comité feels strongly that public domain material digitised with public money should be freely accessible for all. This should be part of the funding conditions for the digitisation of public domain material across Europe." On the other hand, however, further below the document adds: "Cultural institutions can, however, ask private companies to pay for the commercial re-use of the material, in order to recoup the digitisation costs and finance further digitization."

As an initial reply to such statements, COMMUNIA member Philippe Aigrain points out: "If a digitized version of a public domain work is in the public domain there is no legal basis for making conditions on its reuse (it is actually contrary to fundamental right to create any). You can create taxes, public trusts, statutory contributions, or voluntary resource pooling to raise resources for digitizing."

Please download and read the full report on the Bringing Europe's Cultural Heritage Online initiative. [10jan11]

'Public Domain Review' launched to celebrate Public Domain Day 2011

The Day of the Locust cover, in the public domainTo celebrate Public Domain Day 2011, the Open Knowledge Foundation has just launched the Public Domain Review, a web-based review of works which have entered the public domain.

Each week an invited contributor will present an interesting or curious work with a brief accompanying text giving context, commentary and criticism. The first piece takes a look at works by Nathanael West, whose works entered the public domain in many jurisdictions on 1st January 2011. Marion Meade, author of Lonelyhearts, a new biography about West, takes a look at his life in Hollywood and the story behind his most famous work, The Day of the Locust.

You can sign up to receive the review in your inbox via email. If you’re on Twitter, you can also follow @publicdomainrev. [03jan11]

Happy Public Domain Day 2011!

1 January 2011Today is Public Domain Day 2011. While the first day of the new year traditionally brings joy and optimism, it is also a celebration of the impressive wealth of knowledge, information and beauty that today becomes freely available to humankind -- like every year's January 1st.

Depending on national copyright laws and based on a rough "life plus seventy years" computation, some authors entering the public domain on 1st Jan 2011 include Walter Benjamin, Emma Goldman, Mikhail Bulgakov, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Paul Klee, Selma Lagerlof, Nathanael West.

To celebrate Public Domain Day 2011 several public events are planned in Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Poland and elsewhere. A full list of events is available on the Public Domain Day website, along with more resources and information to raise worldwide awareness about the role of the public domain in our societies.

Please spread the word about this celebration and feel free to browse the PDD website to find greater inspiration and enjoy the creative and entrepreneurial freedom granted to everybody by the public domain. Happy Public Domain Day 2011! [01jan11]

"Copyright expired, everybody free. 2011 will be the year of Gatsby and Margarita"

book covers, public domain image
A comprehensive article published last week on Il Venerdì, a weekly magazine of the Italian daily la Repubblica, is focused on various international authors whose works are now entering the public domain and the upcoming publications of many new translations (in Italian). Under the title "Copyright expired, everybody free. 2011 will be the year of Gatsby and Margarita" (full pdf here), Brunella Schisa explains that right after the 1st January 2011 deadline -- also known as Public Domain Day -- several Italian publishers will launch new translations of such masterpieces as "The Master and Margarita" by Mikhail Bulgakov and Francis Scott Fitzgerald's best novels ("The Great Gatsby", "Tender Is the Night"). Why? Simple: according to Italian law, authors' copyright expires 70 years after their death (1940), so everybody is free to re-use their works in any fashion and format. And, guess what?, both the public and the market are craving for new versions of such classics of the world literature. A truly remarkable story! [28dec10]

More events to celebrate Public Domain Day in Europe

More events to celebrate Public Domain Day 2011 are being planned in European cities. The new additions include an event at the National Library in Warsaw on December 30, 2010, during opening hours (13:00-15:00), focused on various topics such as the digital objects in local Digital Libraries and the need to introduce a system of legal protection of the public domain. For more information please visit the event webpage.

Also, in Berlin the Open Knowledge Foundation will host an informal meet-up addressing the opportunities to reuse public domain works in interesting new ways, whether as the basis for useful web services, in research and education, or in the arts. Participants will include artists, designers, developers, scholars, legal experts and representatives from cultural heritage institutions. The event will take place on 14 January 2011 from 11:00 to 20:00 at CO Impakt, Erkelenzdamm 59, Berlin; for more info please check this Eventbrite page.

More details about these and other events are always available on the Public Domain Day 2011. If you are planning a local event to celebrate PD Day, please email us at pd-day [at] communia-project [dot] eu. [11dec10]

Planning Public Domain Day 2011 initiatives

1 January 2011Several initiatives are currently underway to celebrate Public Domain Day 2011 on January 1st. We have updated the Public Domain Day website, managed by COMMUNIA with special support from the Open Knowledge Foundation. The main objective is to provide resources and information related to such important date, and particularly about upcoming events planned across the world.

In Torino, Italy, a Public Domain Day event is scheduled for the 22nd of January, focusing on Vito Volterra and Francis Scott Fitzgerald, two great authors who passed away in 1940. On the of January in Zurich, Switzerland, a "public brunch" is planned at Cabaret Voltaire, where in 1916 the art movement known as Dada was launched. Co-organized by Digitale Allmend, Dock18 and Wikimedia CH, the event will address the active reuse of PD works by society at large, and especially by children. There will be at least five "working stations", where children (and adults) could actually apply their creativity in reusing PD works. Local organizers will also explore the legacy and production of well-known National artists, such as Paul Klee and Selma Lagerlöf. Please visit the event webpage for more info.

Please check the Public Domain Day website for more details, and if you are planning a local event to celebrate PD Day, please email us: pd-day [at] communia-project [dot] eu. [22nov10]

New mapping tool for reusing European public data

Here is a great example of reusing European public data to make it easier to understand for citizens, journalists and others: a new mapping tool to help people find out how €3.4 billion of European fisheries subsidies is spent. The project highlights how important it is for public bodies to make data legally and technically reusable, so that others can do interesting things with it.

The project also releases all of their cleaned up data under a fully open license, which means that others can continue to do interesting things with it (like connect it with other data sources, produce new visualisations, and so on).

Read full details on the Open Knowledge Foundation blog. [10nov10]

Radio Berkman: The Future of University in Cyberspace

COMMUNIA Conference on University and Cyberspace, photo from Flickr, under a CC license As a follow-up to last June COMMUNIA Conference on University and Cyberspace, recently Charles Nesson and David Weinberger discussed at Harvard's Berkman Center the outcome of the event, addressing in particular such issues as: What should be the mission of universities in cyberspace? How can our educational institutions promote ideals of free exchange of information yet cope with the complex intellectual property challenges presented by the net?

The resulting discussion -- available as an MP3 podcast (45 minutes) or in an edited, shorter version, with recorded quotes from speakers at the Conference (including J.C. De Martin, with C. Nesson in the side photo) -- is a true instance of 'food for thought', warmly suggested to anybody interested in the future relationship between universities and the digital world. Here follows a short summary of this Radio Berkman episode. [23oct10]

Video about Public Domain Calculators

The Open Knowledge Foundation has produced a short video covering documentation and strategies for building a set of Public Domain Calculators for countries across Europe, as discussed in a related meeting held in November 2009 within the COMMUNIA project. [12oct10]

Public Domain Calculators from Open Knowledge Foundation on Vimeo.

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