Public Domain Day

Every year on 1 January, numerous copyright works quietly slip into the realm called the public domain, celebrated only by copyright boffins. Every so often one of the works garnishes lots of attention, and this year it was a doozy.

The original Winnie-the-Pooh, written by by A. A. Milne and illustrated by E. H. Shepard, was first published in 1926, and it went into the public domain this year. There is much discussion about this because Disney licensed the work and their version, released in 1961, remains in copyright and has an estimated worth between $3 billion and $6 billion.

In Australia, a number of famous writers' and personalities' works have also entered the public domain, including works by Bartlett Adamson, who wrote Twelve Sonnets in 1918 and established the SydneySider. Early Australian political activists Sarah Jane Baines and Cara David also entered the public domain this year, and the writings of Field Marshal Sir Thomas Blamey and our sixteenth prime minister, Ben Chifley, can be found there now.

When works enter the public domain it means that they are available to members of society to use as they wish. You can copy, use, adapt, and be inspired by them without permission and without payment to the original creators. So, if you have a hankering to write Pooh’s next great adventure or a musical about the Chifley years, now could be your time!

A wide range of writings, art, music, and film enters the public domain every year and is always worth a peruse. Contact our Copyright Manager Vanessa Tuckfield for more information.

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