William Shakespeare turns 450 today. His masterful use of language keeps his plays popular, relevant, in production and available to us all as literary treasures in the public domain. Public domain works, like Shakespeare’s plays, are available for the public to use, copy, distribute, perform, quote, sample and make derivative works from… for free. Shakespeare’s plays are in the public domain because they are nearly 400 years old. (Here in the United States, works published before 1923 are in the public domain).
It’s important to note that newer productions, translations or works based on Shakespeare plays may still be covered by copyright protection… and may NOT be in the public domain. For example, movies of Shakespeare plays are “new” enough to still be covered by copyright. The length of time that a play or other creative work is protected by copyright, and the timeline for when works enter the public domain varies country by country.
Happy Birthday Shakespeare! Thank you for your stellar intellectual property! “…can one desire too much of a good thing?”
BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.
See also: earlier blog posts on the topic of “public domain,” https://iplegalfreebies.wordpress.com/category/public-domain/; other copyright and public domain resources, http://www.copyright.gov, http://copyright.cornell.edu/resources/publicdomain.cfm, http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/; ending quote from, As You Like It; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.