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Playing Catch 22 with the Public Domain

Goethe-BouquetPlaying Catch 22 with cultural heritage is quite simple: since cultural heritage institutions hardly ever are in a position to digitize their collection because of a lack of financial resources, they obtain funding on the basis of public/private partnerships.

Chances are that in return for the financial support needed for digitization, the private party will seek to retain exclusivity over the digitized objects and to impose restrictions on their further reproduction and making available to the public. The result: the collection is certainly digitized, but the public’s expectation of being able to freely re-use digitized works remains frustrated for as long as the private party has decided.

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The hangover after Public Domain Day…

The New Year’s festivities are just behind us and with these the celebrations around Public Domain Day 2012 that took place in different cities in and outside Europe (Warsaw, Zurich, Turin, Rome, Haifa etc.).

2012 brings with it the joy of using James Joyce’s masterpieces without asking the estate for prior authorization (which more often than not met with a ‘no’ for an answer!). No one needs to be afraid of using the works of Virginia Woolf any longer! And the fans of Arsène Lupin, the French ‘gentleman burglar’, are now able to borrow – for good! – the ideas of its author, Maurice Leblanc. The works of several music composers are also free for reuse, including those of Frank Bridge and Jo [...]

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