The first of January, as many of you know, is the day on which works whose copyright term expired the previous year officially rise into the public domain. For many years now, however, no published works have entered the PD because of the way the 1976 Copyright Act restructured the term of copyright protection. 2018 was the first year in decades that the term of protection for some works – those published in 1923 – began to expire, so on January 1, 2019, many such published works will, finally, become public property. Lots of research libraries will celebrate by making digital versions of these newly PD works available to all, and the Association of Research Libraries plans a portal page, so folks can find all these newly freed works.
A guest post by David W. Lewis, Mike Roy, and Katherine Skinner
Even in the early stages of this effort we have had to confront several uncomfortable truths.
First Uncomfortable Truth: In the main, there are two sets of actors developing systems and services to support digital scholarly communication. The first of these are the large commercial publishers, most notably Elsevier, Wiley, and Springer/Nature. Alejandro Posada and George Chen have documented their efforts. A forthcoming SPARC report previewed in a DuraSpace webinar by Heather Joseph confirms these findings. The second set of actors may currently be more accurately described as a ragtag band of actors: open source projects of various sizes and capacities. Some are housed in universities like the Public Knowledge Project (PKP), some are free standing 503(C)3s, and others are part of an umbrella organization like DuraSpace or the Collaborative Knowledge Foundation (COKO). Some have large installed bases and world-wide developer communities like DSpace. Others have yet to establish themselves, and do not yet have a fully functional robust product. Some are only funded with a start-up grants with no model for sustainability and others have a solid funding based on memberships or the sale of services. This feels to us a bit like the rebel alliance versus the empire and the death star.