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How To make a shoe, kill a bear, and mix a Widow's Tears

Mental Floss links to free How-To guides from a hundred years ago that are still helpful if you need to mesmerize someone or name a baby
posted by The Whelk on Jul 28, 2014 - 34 comments

Apartheid in South Africa (1957) Documentary

This film produced by the United States Federal Government in 1957 explores South Africa's apartheid policy, focusing on issues such as race relations, political practices, and segregated dwellings. The footage very radically contrasts the bleakness of black life with the privileges enjoyed by most whites as well as including several interviews with black leaders, while also giving the architects of Apartheid a platform to defend themselves and their policies. (34:11)
A fascinating snapshot of the time.
[more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Feb 12, 2014 - 4 comments

"congress shrugged"

If it weren't for the 1976 Copyright Act, copyright on work would expire after 56 years - which would have meant that Kerouac's On The Road, the original 12 Angry Men, and Elvis's All Shook Up would be public domain by today.
posted by divabat on Dec 31, 2013 - 38 comments

Maps

Open data from balloon and kite photography
posted by aniola on Dec 26, 2013 - 12 comments

Naturalis Historia

"My subject is a barren one – the world of nature, or in other words life; and that subject in its least elevated department, and employing either rustic terms or foreign, nay barbarian words that actually have to be introduced with an apology. Moreover, the path is not a beaten highway of authorship, nor one in which the mind is eager to range: there is not one of us who has made the same venture, nor yet one Roman who has tackled single-handed all departments of the subject."
Naturalis Historia was written by Pliny the Elder between 77 and 79 CE and was meant to serve as a kind of proto-encyclopedia discussing all of the ancient knowledge available to him, covered in enough depth and breadth to make it by a reasonable margin the largest work to survive to the modern day from the Roman era. The work includes discussions on astronomy, meteorology, geography, mineralogy, zoology and botany organized along Aristotelian divisions of nature but also includes essays on human inventions and institutions. It is dedicated to the Emperor Titus in its epistle to the Emperor Vespasian, a close friend of Pliny who relied on his extensive knowledge, and its unusually careful citations of sources as well as its index makes it a precursor to modern scholarly works. It was Pliny's last work, as well as sadly his sole surviving one, and was published not long before his death attempting to save a friend from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum, famously recounted by Pliny's eponymous nephew Pliny the Younger.
Here is a reasonable translation that is freely available to download from archive.org for your edification.
[more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Dec 16, 2013 - 24 comments

Your tax dollars at work

The book on Wood-Frame House Construction (with diagrams) is brought to you by the USDA Forest Service. Here is the full online index of USDA Agriculture Handbooks. They're public domain. [more inside]
posted by aniola on Dec 14, 2013 - 15 comments

A lot of public domain images

The British Library has posted more than a million public domain images on Flickr.
posted by jiawen on Dec 14, 2013 - 23 comments

Open Content, An Idea Whose Time Has Come

This week the Getty Museum announced that it is making 4600 digital images of public domain materials in its collections freely available, with plans to release more as their status is confirmed. You can browse the collection here, or take a look at some selected highlights. Want more free images? Try these repositories.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Aug 17, 2013 - 30 comments

In case, you know, you get bored on the internet

The fifty best (public domain) classic movies that you can legally watch online for free right now, all neatly collected for y'all by Flavorwire (paginated version).
posted by MartinWisse on Jun 19, 2013 - 25 comments

LACMA Collection

The Collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Of the 80,000 or so pieces of art on display online, around 20,000 will now have high resolution versions available for download. [more inside]
posted by kmz on Mar 14, 2013 - 14 comments

Ebook Index of Free Ebooks for the Kindle

Ebook Index of Free Ebooks for the Kindle [via mefi projects]
posted by aniola on Mar 9, 2013 - 43 comments

Coming soon: Pippi Blondestocking

An unknown publisher has used Amazon's CreateSpace to make a new, three-in-one volume of L.M. Montgomery’s classic "Anne of Green Gables" series with a bold re-imagining of Anne's look on the cover. Reactions are more or less as expected.
posted by Shepherd on Feb 7, 2013 - 65 comments

"What books would be entering the public domain if we [the US] had the pre-1978 copyright laws?"

What Could Have Entered the Public Domain on January 1, 2013?:'Under the law that existed until 1978 … Works from 1956.' Yesterday was Public Domain Day, with many works entering the public domain, depending on jurisdiction. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jan 2, 2013 - 54 comments

The Internet Archive releases a torrent of torrents

The Internet Archive is now offering over 1,000,000 torrents including our live music concerts, the Prelinger movie collection, the librivox audio book collection, feature films, old time radio, lots and lots of books, and all new uploads from our patrons into Community collections (with more to follow). ... BitTorrent is the now fastest way to download items from the Archive, because the BitTorrent client downloads simultaneously from two different Archive servers located in two different datacenters, and from other Archive users who have downloaded these Torrents already. The distributed nature of BitTorrent swarms and their ability to retrieve Torrents from local peers may be of particular value to patrons with slower access to the Archive, for example those outside the United States or inside institutions with slow connections. (previously) [more inside]
posted by Egg Shen on Aug 8, 2012 - 41 comments

The art of Kevin J. Weir, who enjoys bears, space, and GIFs

Kevin J. Weir is an artist, making ads (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), and more interestingly, not ads. In the latter category, he has made 3 stand-alone sites: the Flux Machine, a tumblr of public domain images turned into animated GIFs, ranging from amusing to surreal (with an extra dash of Lovecraft), which Cartoon Brew likened to Terry Gilliam and Stan VanDerBeek; Nyan Waits, another spin-off of the Nyan Cat meme/theme, now with more Tom Waits; and Loud Portraits, an interactive portrait gallery. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Apr 4, 2012 - 9 comments

The Public Domain Review

The Public Domain Review is one year old as of Jan 1, 2012. It's like a mashup of New York/London Review of Books, Project Gutenberg and Internet Archive. Contributors. Previously.
posted by stbalbach on Feb 24, 2012 - 10 comments

PhyloPic: an open database of life form silhouettes

PhyloPic is an open database of life form silhouettes. All images are available for reuse under a Public Domain or Creative Commons license. [more inside]
posted by brundlefly on Feb 4, 2012 - 20 comments

The Berne Convention Redux

"Neither the Copyright and Patent Clause nor the First Amendment, we hold, makes the public domain, in any and all cases, a territory that works may never exit. "
posted by burnfirewalls on Jan 19, 2012 - 96 comments

Vintage Printable

Vintage Printable provides vintage images in the public domain for download or printing.
posted by lalex on Jul 5, 2011 - 15 comments

Public Domain 2

Brian Wood is a comic book writer, best known for his subversive DMZ, which explores the city of New York in the aftermath of a second American civil war. He is now offering a 132-page artbook entitled "Public Domain 2" in its entirety as a free download on his site.
posted by chmmr on Jun 9, 2011 - 14 comments

The Stolen Scream

The Stolen Scream. In 2006, photographer Noam Galai posted a handful of dramatic self-portraits to Flickr. Unbeknownst to him, his screaming face slowly took on a life of its own (often as a symbol of unrest or protest), appearing in countless permutations the world over. In this mini-documentary, Noam is surprisingly pragmatic about his accidental fame, and the fact that he only got paid once for the legal use of the picture.
posted by O9scar on May 5, 2011 - 26 comments

The decoder rings are, sadly, out of stock.

Don't Touch That Dial! is a simple tumblr that collects radio shows and advertisements now in the public domain. The archive is pretty great.
posted by Lutoslawski on Jan 12, 2011 - 8 comments

Public Domain Day

Every January 1 is Public Domain Day, when new authors enter the public domain. Copyright law is "fiendishly complex", but using the generic "life plus seventy" rule, here are some of the authors who enter the public domain today. What could have been entering the public domain today under the pre-1978-era law (Fellowship of the Ring, Dr. Seuss, etc..).. but you can expect further endless extensions of copyright to come. More articles here, here.
posted by stbalbach on Jan 1, 2011 - 115 comments

The holidays just aren't the same without old movies

There are lots of great films in the public domain and many of them are online. OpenFlix has 600, including a bunch of Chaplin, sci-fi and horror B-movies, film noir and HD versions of The Kid, M and Night of the Living Dead. Drelb has 400, including Buster Keaton's The General and Steamboat Bill Jr., episodes of Bonanza and Dragnet and Three Stooges shorts. Crazeclassics has over a 100, including The Third Man, Roger Corman's The Little Shop of Horrors, Bringing Up Baby and To Kill a Mockingbird. Ampopfilms has 80, including His Girl Friday, Reefer Madness, Destination Moon and the 1954 animated version of Animal Farm. Gravitas Ventures has 35, notably Vampyr, Death Rides a Horse and Borderline.
posted by Kattullus on Dec 23, 2010 - 19 comments

Yes We Scan

10 Rules for Radicals Video link. (Transcript in a variety of sources) Carl Malamud, public domain advocate extraordinaire, describes lessons learned from his years of bringing government documents into the true public domain. (via Boingboing)
posted by zabuni on Aug 29, 2010 - 6 comments

The cause of, and solution to, all life's problems

Copyright turns 300: An Act for the Encouragement of Learning, by vesting the Copies of Printed Books in the Authors or purchasers of such Copies, also known as the Statute of Anne, became law on April 10, 1710.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Apr 10, 2010 - 19 comments

Public Domain Day 2010

Public Domain Day 2010. This is the day when a year’s worth of copyrights expire in many countries around the world.Year of death + 70: (disclaimer) But in some other countries, it is a bittersweet day. The United States, Australia, Russia, and Mexico are in the midst of public domain freezes.
posted by stbalbach on Dec 31, 2009 - 40 comments

LibriVox's Christmas Carol Collection 2009

In 2006, LibriVox released a small collection of traditional Christmas Carols, sung by volunteers from around the world, all in the Public Domain. It was a neat idea. Then, years of silence, no carolers came. Now it's December 2009 and the carolers have returned, with a second larger collection of traditional carols. (orig LibriVox page. Project page.)
posted by stbalbach on Dec 19, 2009 - 7 comments

“We believe this is a revolution...Content retrieval is now centralized and production is decentralized.”

Google makes public domain books available for instant custom printing. Show up anywhere that has one of the book printing machines. Select one of the millions of public domain titles in Google Books digital library. Pay around the price of a mass market paperback. The machine then prints a copy of your desired book* in a few minutes, as demonstrated in this lovingly narrated video. [more inside]
posted by voltairemodern on Sep 17, 2009 - 50 comments

Be Kind, Recycle (Film Footage)

Sex Galaxy (trailer 1, trailer 2, NSFW) is a new film that claims to be the first "green film," as it is made of 100% recycled material. In an Wired article, director/producer Mike Davis discloses his film sources. "Boarded-up libraries, abandoned schools, decaying drive-in movie theaters…. These are the realms in which I unearth my wares," he said. "And actually, many of these films are available on the internet. You can find amazing collections through the Library of Congress." The Wired article notes that the recycled material isn't itself wholly original, and Bad Lit expands the history of film plunder further. Sex Galaxy is sourced from Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women, which relied on footage from Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet, which in turn is sampled from the Russian film Planeta Bur. The history of film reuse is long and storied, and continues after the jump. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Jun 27, 2009 - 17 comments

Downloads in All Major

Classical Music at the European Archive. Free and legal lossless downloads of out-of-copyright recordings. Formats include WAV, FLAC, MP3 & Ogg.
posted by Gyan on Mar 9, 2009 - 36 comments

Online public-domain children's literature

"The Baldwin Project seeks to make available online a comprehensive collection of resources for parents and teachers of children. Our focus, initially, is on literature for children that is in the public domain in the United States. This includes all works first published before 1923." [more inside]
posted by bitter-girl.com on Oct 5, 2008 - 10 comments

Hot sox! This is what I've been yearning for!

Barnacle Press : archive of mostly public domain newspaper comics. Loads of good stuff, but some highlights not previously mentioned include (especially) Ella Cinders, an stylishly written flapper-Cinderella update; the less clever but still charming Cinderella Suze; the appallingly cute Diary of Snubs, Our Dog; Foxy Grandpa, about a grandfather who outsmarts prank-happy kids; The Hurry Up New Yorker, a kinetically drawn one-joke strip; The Newlyweds' Baby, about a cartoon-sexually-dimorphic couple with a terrible baby; Doesn't It Seem Strange, sort of a beautifully illustrated 'They'll Do It Every Time' for 1903-4; Bringing Up Father, class comedy with lots of rolling pin violence; the freaky-deaky Terrors of the Tiny Tads. (Main link previously posted a couple of times in 2005, but new stuff has been added since then, and the site's been redesigned.)
posted by zusty on Sep 2, 2008 - 22 comments

Free Mickey?

His is the most vigorously defended copyright in history, the reason behind the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act. But Mickey Mouse may already be in the public domain. (Via)
posted by Astro Zombie on Aug 22, 2008 - 56 comments

Just when you thought you had it all sussed out

Copyright, copywrong, copyleft, copyWHAT?! Peter Hirtle is no stranger to the questions surrounding copyright and the use of public domain materials. He has been thoroughl in researching and referencing other's work in this area. Peter's handy little chart could not have been more timely; it was really long overdue. But it really just gets overwhelming sometimes ... I blame it all on that d*m**d mouse! [more inside]
posted by aldus_manutius on Jul 16, 2008 - 16 comments

Most books published 1923-63 in public domain

"For U.S. books published between 1923 and 1963, the rights holder needed to submit a form to the U.S. Copyright Office renewing the copyright 28 years after publication. In most cases, books that were never renewed are now in the public domain. Estimates of how many books were renewed vary, but everyone agrees that most books weren't renewed. If true, that means that the majority of U.S. books published between 1923 and 1963 are freely usable." How do you know? The renewal copyright records have traditionally been scattered and hard to access, but Google - with the help of Project Gutenberg and the Distributed Proofreaders painstakingly typed in every word - has just released a single database as a freely downloadable XML file.
posted by stbalbach on Jun 25, 2008 - 54 comments

Yes!

djb releases code to public domain, including qmail. [more inside]
posted by finite on Nov 30, 2007 - 48 comments

Actual, actual, actual vampires

Here are two seminal vampire films: Carl Dreyer's Vampyr and F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Oct 26, 2007 - 19 comments

CreateSpace, an Amazon on-demand self-publishing service, inks deal with National Archives for 100,000's of public domain films

CreateSpace is the new name of Amazon's on-demand self-publishing service for the super long tail of books, audio CD's and film DVD/Blue-ray. Products automatically get an ISBN number and are listed on Amazon.com, including "Search Inside" for books. The National Archives and CreateSpace will be publishing movies from its collection of over 200,000 public domain films, raising some provocative copyright issues.
posted by stbalbach on Aug 8, 2007 - 34 comments

PURE EXCITEMENT!

As Image Comics prepares to resurrect Golden Age comics under the rubric of public domain, it may be worth revisiting heroes of yore, like Stardust (by Hank Fletcher), Fantomah and Titan. Even more can be found through the Pure Excitement reprint webzine, (unfortunately burdened with clumsy navigation— modify the final segment for all 36 issues).

Of course, a fair number of them do show up on the Stupid Comics page, like Fantomah versus the Weird Gorillas, alongside more modern mockeries of books like Man or Astroman and Superman meets the Quik Bunny.
posted by klangklangston on Jul 25, 2007 - 17 comments

Public Domain Photos

Public Domain Photos [via mefi projects]. An extraordinarily rich resource for free stock photography.
posted by melissa may on Jun 22, 2007 - 10 comments

Challenging the Smithsonian

The non-profit group, Public.resource.org, are challenging the Smithsonian Institution by downloading all 6,288 (mostly) public domain photographs from the very restrictive Smithsonian Images site and reposting them to Flickr. [more: here, here] {via Ramage}
posted by peacay on May 18, 2007 - 25 comments

The International Music Score Library Project

The International Music Score Library Project. PDF downloads of public domain classical music scores. From solo piano to full symphony orchestra. 2,762 works and counting.
posted by chrismear on Apr 18, 2007 - 12 comments

Dream Big.

Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales asks: Imagine there existed a budget of $100 million to purchase copyrights to be made available under a free license. What would you like to see purchased and released under a free license? Photos libraries? textbooks? newspaper archives? Be bold, be specific, be general, brainstorm, have fun with it. And they do.
posted by divabat on Oct 22, 2006 - 60 comments

Royal Society of London, 1665–

The Royal Society Digital Archive is now on-line and free to use ... until December. Until that time, every article in its collections, going back to 1665, is freely accessible. Poke around, who knows what you might find ... [pdf]
posted by Sonny Jim on Sep 22, 2006 - 21 comments

Free Movies Fallen out of Copyright

Free Movies, Documentaries, Cartoons, TV-Shows, Music & Comedy - 100% handpicked content chosen to inform, educate, shock and entertain you. Most of the old films and cartoons are in public domain: "when a work's copyright or patent restrictions expire, it enters the public domain and may be used by anyone for any purpose." The newer media is probably not in public domain, they are just freely available for some unknown reason. Tomorrow they could be gone.
posted by crunchland on Sep 18, 2006 - 19 comments

Open Government (Research)

OpenCRS - easy access to US Congressional Research Service Reports
posted by daksya on Jun 28, 2005 - 4 comments

Wasting Precious Time

Make a story using public-domain images on this quirky little site. If you like that, you may like Inventing Situations which is a haven for people who used to frequent The Sci Fi Channel's now defunct Caption This! site. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, don't worry... it was all just a very lucid dream.
posted by E_B_A on Apr 11, 2005 - 2 comments

free for da peeples.

Speaking of free audio books, Project Gutenberg is currently working on releasing about 500 free, public domain audio books in mp3 format. Among the titles included are Melville's Typee, A Midsummer Night's Dream,A Modest Proposal, Huck Finn, and many, many more. I have some Great Expectations for this one...
posted by kaibutsu on Mar 27, 2004 - 15 comments

Hear Free Culture

A free, blogger-read version of Lawrence Lessig's new book, Free Culture is being produced. The book is released under a Creative Commons license which allows non-commercial derivative works to be created from it. (Some chapters are already available.) This is great - I think it would be a fine thing if more people produced audio versions of open-licensed or public domain works in this manner. (From boingboing)
posted by majcher on Mar 27, 2004 - 5 comments

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