(Empirical studies have shown that public domain books are less expensive, available in more editions, and more likely to be in print.) Imagine a digital Library of Alexandria containing all of the world’s books from 1956 and earlier, where, thanks to technology, you can search, link, index, annotate, copy and paste. instead of seeing these works enter the public domain in 2013, we will have to wait until 2052.
If you wanted to find guitar tabs or sheet music and freely record your own version of some of the influential music of the 1950s, January 1, 2013, might have been a booming day for you under earlier copyright laws – 1956 was an exciting year for science – it marked the publication of seminal research in the nascent fields of cognitive science and artificial intelligence.
But you may have to pay to see articles such as Allen Newell & Herbert Simon, “The Logic Theory Machine–A Complex Information Processing System” and Noam Chomsky, “Three Models for the Description of Language” in .
(Happily, these articles are available on other sites – Google them if you’re interested, they’re worth reading – but as we explain below, this is not a stable solution for providing meaningful access to science, and it’s remarkable to find them still behind publisher paywalls.) What about discoveries reported 56 years ago in major scientific journals such as network).
The same is true for other noteworthy developments from 1956, such as Kenneth Boulding’s “General Systems Theory – the Skeleton of Science,” Dr.
Denham Harman’s “Aging: a theory based on free radical and radiation chemistry,” and the inaugural volume of the .
Sometimes articles are made available, but out of altruism or renewed interest, not entitlement to a scientific public domain.
A prescient article on climate change by Gilbert N.
Plass, “Carbon Dioxide and the Climate” is available only for payment in pdf form but because of its continuing relevance was reprinted for free in html.
Current US law extends copyright for 70 years after the date of the author’s death, and corporate “works-for-hire” are copyrighted for 95 years after publication.
But prior to the 1976 Copyright Act (which became effective in 1978), the maximum copyright term was 56 years – an initial term of 28 years, renewable for another 28 years.
Under those laws, works published in 1956 would enter the public domain on January 1, 2013, where they would be “free as the air to common use.” Under current copyright law, we’ll have to wait until And no published works will enter our public domain until 2019.