1709 Blog: for all the copyright community

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

A dawn of cornflowers (and public domain) ... but only somewhere

A blogger's beloved poet: Sylvia Plath
Poetry-lovers will know that "a dawn of cornflowers" is taken from Sylvia Plath's beautiful poem Poppies in October. I have always been a devoted admirer of Sylvia's poetry, and - little known fact - I happened to live (very happily) in her same room when I was an LLM student at Newnham College in Cambridge (UK). 

Sylvia Plath in fact arrived there in 1955 on a Fulbright scholarship, and it was in Cambridge that - among other things - met "that big, dark, hunky boy", ie future (ex-) husband and Poet Laureate Ted Hughes [the story of their first encounter is told here: do read it!] 

Sylvia died in London in 1963 [she lived in the same flat at 23 Fitzroy Road, where also Irish poet WB Yeats had lived before her].

Copyright-wise, what does this date mean?

Well, it means that today Sylvia Plath's works enter the public domain [Happy Public Domain Day!], but only in those countries whose term of protection covers the life of the author and 50 years after his/her death. 

This is the case, for instance, of Canada, many countries in Africa, the Caribbean, and Asia. However, it is not the case of many other countries, including the US and Member States of the European Union, whose general term of protection is life of the author plus 70 years. 

For a map of copyright term around the world, see here.
Do you wish to know who else is in the Public Domain class of 2014? Click here.
A conversation about Sylvia Plath's (neglected) 50th death anniversary is available here.

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