Every year on January 1, copyright expires on thousands of works that subsequently enter the public domain. In Belgium, copyright protection lasts 70 years after the death of the author and so in 2017, the works of authors who died in 1946 will be liberated. This year we welcome the creations of among others Gertrude Stein, Léon Spilliaert, László Moholy-Nagy and H.G. Wells. While copyright is a tool for protecting the creation and distribution of artistic work of living artists, the Public Domain is essential because it guarantees free access to works after their death. In the context of a digital culture that drives collective practices and encourages reuse, the importance of the Public Domain is only increasing.
For five years now the Royal Library of Belgium, the Center for Recherche Information Droit and Société (CRIDS), Nova Cinema, Constant and this year Plus-tot-te-laat we organize like many organizations in other countries, a day dedicated to the Public Domain.
On Saturday, May 27, 2017 we celebrate the new works that have entered and we critically pay attention to the current system of intellectual property. How can we contribute to a cultural climate in which sharing, reuse and the free dissemination of knowledge is no longer an exception?