Wednesday, 2 January 2013

the joys of public domain day

May (Eric Ravilious woodcut)
Apart from being New Year's Day, with resolutions, regrets and recaps of the last year it is also Public Domain Day.  A celebration of the commons is vital in this time of litigious technologists.  Victor Hugo, author of The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Misérables argued passionately for the promotion of public access to works.
This is because the public good is our primary concern, and I declare this [as an author], the people’s rights come before ours.
      -- Victor Hugo, Discours d’ouverture du Congrès littéraire international (tr. Kerton) taken from The Digital Public Domain: Foundations for an Open Culture

 Among those entering the public domain this year are:
  • A.E. Waite, writer and occultist (co-creator of the Rider-Waite Tarot deck, said to be inspiration for Ephraim Waite in Lovecraft's The Thing at The Doorstep) whose works on western occultism and Freemasonry survived a feud with Aleister Crowley.
  • Ernest Bramah, who is credited with the quote "May you live in interesting times." and whose Kai Lung and Max Carrados stories are wonderful inspiration and whose Secret of the League inspired George Orwell's 1984.
  • L.M.Montgomery, author of Anne of Green Gables and numerous short stories.
The beauty of the public domain is that it offers a wealth of resource for creators to use.  It's worth taking a look to see what inspiration may be found.  The idea of detective mysteries with occultist themes and red-haired orphans in Victorian times does appeal.  Wonder what you'll find?

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