January 1 was Public Domain Day. It is an “in theory only” holiday here in the United States. Here is a list of all the great literary classics that entered the public domain this year:

  • Nada
  • Zip
  • Nuthin’

Pretty long list eh? No, I did not screw up and forget the list. I just shared the entire list with you. Now, if we had not changed our copyright laws in 1978, this article covers many great works that would have entered public domain. For now, however, not one single work entered the public domain in the good old USA. Seems we have modified our copyright laws so much that on can even retroactively copyright material.

Seems like the United States is just going to sit this holiday out.

It is sadly ironic that in a land where we originally questioned whether individuals should be allowed to leave an inheritance now creates laws to perpetuate corporate ownership of intellectual property. Also of note, our “public” servants are still debating how much to tax inheritance and, at the same time, look to better arm the corporations for perpetual ownership of intellectual property.

At one point in time, it was a compliment to cover another musicians music, today it is a legal liability. Copyright was originally intended to foster and enhance the creative process. True it did give “rights” to an owner but for a limited time. It was then supposed to become a “public treasure” allowing others to do movies of the work and other interpretations of it.

Am I just making a whole lotta noise ’bout nothin’? Maybe… but think about this… next time you are celebrating a birthday and sing “Happy Birthday”, remember you just broke the law. It is a copyrighted song and you should have payed a license fee.

I move that we create our own holiday to replace it with. How about Corporately Owned Day?