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Happy Public Domain day, even for the inhabitants of the longest-copyright-term country

Every year, on January 1st, new material ceases to be protected by copyright and enters the public domain. This means, every year, more knowledge, literature, paintings, music, movies and a long etcetera becomes collective property, instead of being artificially held by the current holders of their rights.

As this image shows (source: ), I have the honor(?) to live in the country with the longest copyright protection term in the world. Copyright in Mexico does not only last for 100 years — It lasts for the natural life of the author plus 100 years. This means that the popular corridos that tell the stories of the 1910 revolution are still not in the public domain. La sucesión presidencial, the book which Francisco I. Madero wrote to justify that a peaceful political change was needed for the 1910 elections, will not enter the public domain until 2014 (president Madero was killed during 1913). Does it make any sense to kidnap cultural, political or artistic works for over a century?

Not only that: Material that is legally sold as public domain in other countries is illegal in ours. Take as an example the recordings of Enrico Carusso, the great Italian tenor who died in 1921. Over 15 years ago, I bought a couple of CDs with his recordings (even if the sources were quite low-quality, as they had been copied over from wax cylinders to magnetic tapes to optical media). I bought them surprisingly cheap, as they were genuine public domain. But they are still protected in my country. That means, I ilegally have some stolen(!) works of art which I lawfully bought outside my country.

Copyright law needs to be revised to match reality. Technological advances have strongly changed reality since 1717’s promulgation of the first copyright laws. The solution is not to extend the terms, but to rethink the whole process.

(yes, this rant was mainly made as an excuse for me to copy this image and put it in a location I can easily refer to later. But I hope it is interesting to you!)


Matthias 2012-01-03 01:35:39


I don’t believe for a f*cking minute that the USA date of 2019 will hold. Disney et al. have ample time until then to bribe Congress into extending it yet again.

Tanguy 2012-01-02 06:57:00

Too bad

Life + 100 yars! That is sad, here in France we have life + 70 years which is already way too much. And the Berne convention imposes life + 50 years as a minimum… Personally, I think that extendind these monopolies after the death of the author is simply insane, but the whole system is anyway.