Public Domain Day 2023

So, January 1st, 2023 (aka Public Domain Day) has passed. Did you wonder why you didn’t see any news about Canadian works that have been released into the public domain?

I think that most educators and other curious people are already familiar with the reasons for copyright and the value of works that can be shared freely when they enter the “public domain.” The internet is full of creative examples of re-imagined images, writings, etc. and many educators have enjoyed free access to historical maps, journals and books to deepen their understanding and teaching.

There are good reasons for copyright protection but, in the past, Canada had been in the “life plus 50 years” camp. We had believed that the value of sharing cultural works to the public was more important as it allowed them to be more widely enjoyed and benefited the institutions that curate and store many of them (i.e., galleries, libraries, archives and museums – GLAM). A recent article in the Canadian Lawyer highlighted the division of potential benefits and challenges.

For the less-than-one percent of copyrighted works which remain valuable 50 years after the authors death, the movie studios, recording studios, publishing houses, and other people or entities that own them will have their monopoly for another 20 years, says Anthony. But for the majority of copyright owners, “the extension is irrelevant.”

Daniel Anthony of Smart & Biggar LLC

However, as of December 31, 2022, Canada fell into line with the USA, a requirement of our participation in the Canada-USA-Mexico free trade agreement. Canada has now joined the “life plus 70” countries that include, among others, Europe and Australia. Therefore, there will be no Canadian works entering the public domain until 2043. If you weren’t aware of the impending change, check out this recent CTV News article.

But that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy what became available from other countries on January 1, 2023, and learn more about shared culture. You may even be inspired to modify or remix the images, movies, books and other materials that are displayed in the following interactive calendar format.

The Public Domain Review (a non-profit organization dedicated to exploring the history of art, literature and ideas) shared its annual “Advent-style” calendar early in December. Each day reveals a highlighted work to be released on Jan 1, 2023. Enjoy exploring and savouring each day’s resource on the calendar (displayed below) OR go straight to the list shared by Wikipedia’s page: 2023 in public domain.

Article links:

What Will Enter the Public Domain in 2023? A Festive Countdown, The Public Domain Review,

Canada Extending Term of Copyright Protection From 50-to-70 Years, Aidan MacNab, Sept 20, 2022, The Canadian Lawyer,

Canada Extends Copyright Protection Another 20 Years to Meet New Trade Obligation, Mia Robson, Jan 2, 2023, Canadian Press,

2023 in public domain, Wikipedia,

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