The works of Vito Volterra and F. Scott Fitzgerald enter the public domain
The topic of the event was the importance of the entry into the public domain of works by two authors who had deceased in 1940: scientist Vito Volterra and writer Francis Scott Fitzgerald.
According to copyright laws in both Italy and the United States, 70 years after the death of the author, the author’s work is being “returned” for public use, and the heirs or rights holders are no longer able to limit the use of the work. For example, now anyone can republish the book “The Great Gatsby”, to publish a new translation, or make a new film based on it, without needing to seek permission or pay any royalties to the family of the writer.
The Public Domain Day event is intended to allow the public to identify all the works that have become fully available during the previous year, in order to allow rapid cultural development. Advocates of the free culture movement believe that no work can be created without the author “borrowing” elements from “his” or from the world’s culture, so they also consider the termination of restrictions for free use by other people as a “return” of the works.
“…The public domain is essential for our cultural and economic life. Unfortunately people do not know what it is and why it is important, which is why we organized this celebration – to tell people what the public domain actually is – the works that you can use freely. In order to make it more tangible, we selected a couple of authors… and we told people about their life and work. We helped people realize that now they can use these beautiful works in any way they want …We are planning to organize these celebrations every year to increase the awareness about the public domain.”
During the celebration in Turin, Primavera De Filippi, representative of the Open Knowledge Foundation, with a masters’ degree on copyright in the digital environment, made the following statement:
“It is important to promote the public domain, to inform and sensibilize the population to the richness of European cultural heritage. The public domain day serves as a reminder that, every year, a whole new range of cultural works becomes available to the public for use and re-use. These works represent the basis of our common culture and an input for the production of new culture”.
Vito Volterra PhD. (1860-1940) was an Italian mathematician and physicist known for his contributions to mathematical biology and integral calculations, as well as a fighter against fascism. In 1931, he was one of the 12 professors out of a total of 1,250 who refused to give the obligatory oath of loyalty to the regime of Mussolini.
Writer and playwright Francis Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940) is best known for his book “The Great Gatsby” (1925) considered to be a classic of American literature. It was chosen as one of the hundred best books of the twentieth century and has a great impact on popular culture and through other media, especially the Robert Redford film from 1974. An example of this influence is also the fact that there is a pizzeria in the town of Radovis called “Gatsby”.
The public domain is not explicitly defined as a special condition in the Macedonian legal system, but it is indirectly defined as the termination of copyright validity. As in most of the other member countries of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the termination takes effect automatically 70 years after the author’s death.
Unfortunately, the volume of works by modern Macedonian authors deceased 70 years ago is relatively modest, but as time passes by there are more and more possibilities. For example, the public use of the works of Koco Racin, the founder of the contemporary Macedonian language poetry will be possible in 2013.
As part of the efforts for spreading free culture, the Metamorphosis Foundation seeks to define the public domain in the legal system of Macedonia as a concept and develop mechanisms for greater legal availability of the contents. One option is the entry of all contents created with public money in the public domain, such as the products of public services and results of scientific research, as well as culture projects supported by the state. These efforts are consistent with the activities of the COMMUNIA network, whose founders include the Metamorphosis Foundation, working in this field on a European level.
Metamorphosis is also an advocate of the Creative Commons movement, offering legal tools – licenses, tailored to the national legislation. With these “agreements for non-exclusive copyright transfer” the individual authors are transferring part of their material rights to the public under certain conditions. One of the conditions is the obligatory attribution of the source, which provides additional promotion, particularly on the internet. One of the users of these licenses is the world’s largest encyclopedia – Wikipedia.