Unfortunately for us in the USA, not much (if anything) will be entering our Public Domain until 2019 (thanks to the 1998 Copyright Extension Act).

From the “Center for the Study of the Public Domain:”

On the first day of each year, Public Domain Day celebrates the moment when copyrights expire.  The films, photos, books and symphonies whose copyright term has finished become “free as the air to common use.”  The end of the copyright on these works means that they enter the public domain, completing the copyright bargain. Copyright gives creators — authors, musicians, filmmakers, photographers — exclusive rights over their works for a limited time.  The copyright encourages the creators to create and the publishers to distribute — that’s a very good thing. But when the copyright ends, the work enters the public domain — to join the plays of Shakespeare, the music of Mozart, the books of Dickens — the material of our collective culture.  That’s a good thing too!  It’s the second part of the copyright bargain; the limited period of exclusive rights ends and the work enters the realm of free culture. Prices fall, new editions come out, songs can be sung, symphonies performed, movies displayed. Even better, people can legally build on what came before.

Yes… a day we used to look forward to, until the 1998 copyright term extension.  The Copyright Extension Act of 1998 increased the copyright term to life plus 70 years and 95 years for corporate authors — and was not only granted to future works.  It was retroactively applied to works that had already been created and enjoyed their full copyright term, and were set to enter the public domain.  None of these works will now enter the public domain until 2019.  The already diminished public domain has been frozen in time.

(If you’re at all curious as to what “could” have been entering the Public Domain this year prior to the copyright extensions, take a look at this.)

Thanks to the “Mickey Mouse Protection Act,” we get to wait another eight years before material once again begins entering our Public Domain.  Now… eight years may not seem too long, but wait!  Winnie the Pooh [1926] and The Mouse [1928] will be expiring in 2016 & 2018 respectively.  I imagine Disney is already preparing their assault on the US Congress for additional copyright extensions well before anything can happen to these two copyrights, most likely in 2015.

Why is the Public Domain so important?  Read about it here.  You can read about our shrinking Public Domain here.

I encourage you to visit “The Public Domain Manifesto” website to read and sign their manifesto, and also check out Mike Masnick’s post on Techdirt.