When tasting new dishes in a restaurant, rarely do we find out where the idea for them came from. Unless we are eating at the Warsaw café Solec44, where the chef, Aleksander Baron, boasts of his inspirations from books in the public domain, which he finds in the Polish national digital library. Therefore, that is the reason why this year’s celebration of Public Domain Day was held there. Its topic was not only based in literature and painting, but this time also in gastronomy and Internet memes and remixes.
The second life of works – as how the public domain is sometimes referred to, a realm free from copyrights. It is difficult, however, to understand this legal concept until one sees (or tastes) the public domain live. We decided to facilitate this during this year’s celebration. We spoke about artistic works, which had just become available for free use. We pondered over how to use them (also commercially) and how to prepare for the works that will enter the domain in the coming years. This is especially important for cultural institutions, which have the greatest impact on the promotion of these resources as well as companies and entrepreneurs who are just discovering the commercial potential of the domain. Workshops were devoted to this, during which we mutually replied to questions about what kind of potential resources the public domain may have in projects that are social or commercial, and how to work with these resources in cultural institutions.
„We shot the trailer for your film.” Auguste and Louis Lumiere
During five parallel workshops (as well as special workshops for children with the remixing of works from the domain) with a few dozen employees of cultural institutions and creative industry entrepreneurs (or with persons planning new ventures), we spoke about, amongst many things, what skills are needed to actively use the public domain and how it could be much more than just free content in business. For many people, the rich variety the public domain – growing together with progressing digitization – possesses is still a surprise. Just as how often these works are present in art, fashion, or design are a surprise too. Therefore, we gave participants the opportunity to partake in two workshop sessions, the choices included: the basics of copyright law, the use of orphan works, conditions and the potential commercial use of public domain works, workshop about how to tell stories utilizing digital resources, as well as a workshop on music and sounds from the public domain.
A performance from poet Grzegorz Uzdański, who runs the popular Facebook profile Nowe wiersze sławnych poetów (New poems of famous poets), showed the comic potential of former poetry and literature. The scale of such use in recent years, particularly visual materials, continues to grow; Discarding Images and Public Domain Review are great examples of this.
„I wrote the text for your social campaign” Maria Konopnicka
Since the public domain gives works a second life, we proposed the rediscovery of a composer forgotten long ago, but who was popular during his lifetime – Adam Wroński. Was the author of the piece “Uśpiony chloroformem” („Put to sleep with chloroform”) rightly forgotten? We had the opportunity to hear some stories from his life and above all, listen to his pieces. Every year, ideas for utilizing the public domain are more and more interesting, sophisticated, and diverse. We are getting better and better at dealing with the legal barriers related to its use; more often we are talking about how to technically and educationally support the potential of the public domain.
„I composed the ringtone in your smartphone” Frederic Chopin
In the Warsaw club and restaurant Solec44, Public Domain Day 2016 took on a different dimension than the previous one. Although this holiday is inextricably linked with the past, which we are trying to sort out legally, we are beginning to think about the future; about the fact that the common good, such as the works in the domain, has significance, potential, and value that is commercial, social, and cultural. Therefore, the campaign to promote the Digital Domain, organized by Centrum Cyfrowe, does not end on the day of the celebration, but only begins.
„I designed the cover of your CD” Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz
We encourage all to remix our posters and to create their own versions with creators that are important to your culture or country!