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Category: Politics and Law

Happy Public Domain Day, 2021 Edition

It is the third annual public domain day in the United States. January 2019 was the first time in a long time that anything covered by copyright in the US entered the public domain. This year makes 3 years of stuff finally making it to the point that they can be freely distributed, built upon, reworked, or used however anyone wishes.

One cool option for using public domain material this year is to check out the Gaming Like Its 1925 game jam over on This game jam is hosted by Some very awesome people who are interested in promoting the public domain and working to make copyright work for the people once again. There are prizes available and just a lot of fun to be had there for all interested.

And just like every year, the Duke Law School has published an article highlighting many of the works that have entered the public domain at midnight last night. There is a ton of books, movies, music, non-fiction, and a lot more that are now available for anyone.

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Happy Public Domain Day US, For Real This Time!

Happy Public Domain Day Everyone! This is a momentous occasion as this is the first year since the 1978 Copyright expansion that the US has actually had one of these. Today, the first works from 1923 will enter the public domain in the US and it is a bittersweet moment for everyone who cares about the progress of art and science. Sweet for the wonderful works that people will be able to distribute freely without risk of being sued or jailed for doing so. Bitter for all the works that have been lost because the owner of the copyright didn’t care about preservation or because the copyright owner cannot be found.

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Politicians Around The Nation Are Once Again Freaking Out About Violent Games

Warning: Exposure to Violent Games has been linked to having fun.It seems like it has been years since video games have been blamed for violence and tragedies. Since the 90s, video games had been under fire for causing youth violence. This swelling of outrage became a tumult after Columbine and continued to rise each time a major shooting involving a youth happened after that. Laws had been passed trying to ban the sale of violent games to minors and each of those laws had been struck down by the courts, ending with the US Supreme Court ruling that video games are protected speech and can’t be regulated in such a manner.

There were plenty of good things to come from all this commotion though. The ESRB rating system was a direct result of this outrage and has been used effectively for years by console manufacturers to give parents control over what games their children can play. It resulted in video game retailers denying the sale of M rated games to minors nearly 90% of the time, even while movie theaters and movie retailers retained a terrible track record for R rated movies.

After the Supreme Court weighed in on the issue, it had seemed that things were pretty settled. Only the very fringes of would blame games after a tragedy since then. That is until the Parkland, Florida shooting. It isn’t clear what made this particular tragedy different from those that came before it, but it sparked an outcry of blame against violent movies and games. Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin blames violence in movies and games for school shootings. Kentucky suffered its own school shooting in January. In Rhode Island, Representative Nardolillo plans to introduce a bill to tax M rated games an additional 10% to fund mental health programs in schools. Even President Donald Trump called out violence in games and movies calling for a “rating system for that.” Finally, NewsOK is reporting that Representatives Mullin and Russell have both put the blame on video games for the recent tragedies. There is a lot to unpack in this but let’s give it a try.

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2018 Is The Last Public Domain Day The US Will Miss Out On

January 1st of each year is what is colloquially referred to as Public Domain Day. It is the day that works enter the public domain after their copyright terms have expired. At least in most countries outside the US. The US has gone decades without anything entering the public domain, but thankfully, 2018 will be the last year this is so. Unless Congress succumbs to the whims of the Motion Picture Industry and extends copyright again.

Every year, the Duke Law School publishes a report about the state of the public domain on January 1st and this year is no exception. This is what Duke had to say about the US.

What is entering the public domain in the United States? Not a single published work. Once again, no published works are entering our public domain this year.2 (Happily, works published in 1923 will finally begin to enter our public domain next year.) The only works that are clearly in the US public domain now are those published before 1923. But what about works published after that date? Does that mean that they’re still under copyright? Well, maybe. Citizens of the United States have to live with a frustrating lack of clarity about what older works they can use. Did the author comply with registration or renewal requirements when those were mandatory?3 The records are fragmentary and confused, the copyright holders hard to find. Perhaps some post-1923 works by the authors above are in the public domain. Perhaps they are still copyrighted. We have to live in a fog of uncertainty, uncertainty that benefits no one. By contrast, in Canada and the EU, the public will know on January 1 that all works by these authors are in the public domain.

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Trump’s America First Plan Likely Means Higher Consumer Electronics Prices

Trump Signing Executive Orders One of President Trump’s promises leading up to taking his oath of office was to put “America First”. By this, he means rewarding American companies that keep or bring back manufacturing to the US, by providing tax incentives and other benefits, and punishing non-compliant companies, by imposing heavy tariffs on imported goods. While most of his focus has been on auto manufacturers so far, that won’t be the end of his efforts.

One potential target of Trump’s wrath will be the video game industry. All three of the major console companies manufacture their consoles in Asia, predominantly China. The same is true for most computers and computer components, as well as mobile phones and tablets. Not even your TV and Blu-ray player is safe from these potential tariffs.


Happy Public Domain Day Everyone Outside The US!

For all of us in the United States, January 1st is just New Year’s day. The day the calendar ticks another year. But for people who live outside the US in Canada, Europe and elsewhere, January 1st means something else entirely. It means today is the day that new works enter the Public Domain. This is the day that more of our culture becomes free to distribute, free to build upon , and free to do whatever we want with. Yet, because of terrible copyright laws in the US, we miss out on all this.

Prior to 1978, copyrights lasted only 28 years, with the option to renew them a single time for an additional 28 years. Then in 1978, Congress, under the guidance of companies such as Disney, extended copyrights to last the life of the author plus 50 years. That is what the rest of the world has today. But in 1998, Congress once again, at the bidding of companies like Disney, extend copyrights to last life plus 70 years for human authors and 95 years for corporate owned copyrights. This pushed the US out of line with much of the world and works in the US won’t start entering the Public Domain until 2019.


The Public Domain Once Again Loses In The New Year

thepublicdomain_2016newOriginally published on GamePolitics.

On January 1st of every year under US Copyright Law, creative and scientific works that have reached the end of their copyright terms go into the public domain. These works are then open for use and distribution by the public without restriction. Sadly, the 1976 copyright term extension passed by Congress have pushed pretty much all copyrighted works out of the public domain.

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The Library Of Congress Once Again Throws Us A Pointless Fair Use Bone

Copyright Consuming Fair Use Thanks To The DMCASince when is fair use something we must beg for on a triennial basis? I guess the answer is since 1998 when the Digital Millennium Copyright Act was signed into law. This law not only extended copyright terms by an additional 20 years, it created a section of law that basically told the public that we do not own the media and computing devices we buy. No, the companies that produced that media and those computing devices own it as long as those companies put DRM on the products to lock out uses they don’t approve of.


Waste Watch No. 3 Targets Online Toxicity Study And Revisits Nature Game Panned By Coburn’s Wastebook

Waste Watch No 3 by Re. Steve RussellRepresentative Steve Russell is back with his third Waste Watch report, which now looks to be coming out on a quarterly basis. In this report, Rep. Russell takes aim at a National Endowment for the Humanities study on toxicity in online video game communities and a NEH grant to continue funding a game based on Thoreau’s book Walden, a game that Senator Coburn panned in his 2012 Wastebook report.

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Oklahoma Representative Picks Up Where Senator Coburn Left Off With New Waste Watch Report

For a number of years, Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn had published an annual Waste Book, highlighting what he considered wasteful spending by the federal government.…

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