Looking back on world-wide celebrations
2020 has seen multiple activities celebrating the public domain take place across the globe. Each event had its own unique way of engaging with communities, showcasing works and sharing knowledge.
Many institutions worked directly with public domain content by releasing new works online or updating the online rights statement of works that entered the public domain; the National Library of Germany.provides a good example. Some institutions organised remix workshops, and there were many social media campaigns around the importance of posting public domain works, such as this example from Wikimedia Poland.
Other events included Wikipedia and Wikidata edit-a-thons, conferences and presentations, as in this example from in The Netherlands. A photowalk in Ghana where people took photos of buildings whose designs are in the public domain, was another innovative way to celebrate the public domain! We also saw award ceremonies which recognised people who have contributed to improving access to open information and public domain material.
The Dutch example: a step-by-step guide
Public Domain Day in the Netherlands is organised by a working group, which is already looking ahead to 2021. Our year-round activities, which start in the spring, go through several steps to help GLAMs identify works in their collections that enter the public domain in the upcoming year. They also help us to plan a celebration of the public domain in January. If you work in the cultural heritage sector and would like to work to make your public domain collections available, or organise an event to celebrate the public domain, the model provided below is a great place to start!
In the spring, we begin by looking for potential makers and authors whose works might be about to enter the public domain. We work with institutions to help analyse their archives and look through their collections for artists who fit this criteria. Wikidata queries is especially useful for this.
Once we have selected the artist we want to explore, we review their Wikipedia page. Wikidata can be used in other ways too - Belgium has made a query to search for the locations of artworks from a single artist, in this case James Ensor. Try the query yourself.
To raise the understanding of the public domain among GLAM professionals, we also organise a public domain masterclass, where we look at the basics of copyright, creative Commons licenses and rights statements. We conduct a diligent search of rights holders and start to determine the entry into the public domain of certain works using a template created by Open Nederland.
In the summer we dig deeper to identify the works we will focus on. At Open Nederland we have developed a public domain determination template for The Netherlands. The National Institute for Sound and Vision uses its own flowchart too, which is available in Dutch.
We also use the summer period to contact institutions that have artworks which will enter the public domain and organise speakers for our January event.