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Will public domain day happen in the U.S. in 2019?

Copyright law gives the authors of creative works the exclusive right, for a period of time, to create and distribute copies of those works. After that time expires, the ownership of the works reverts to the "public domain," which means that anyone can freely copy, use, and expand upon the original work.

In the United States, the limited term of copyright has been extended several times. The most recent extension, the Sony Bono Copyright Act of 1998, has ensured that no additional published works have entered the public domain in the last 18 years. Under current law, the next batch of published works to enter public domain will be on January 1, 2019. On that date works published in 1923 will lose copyright protection.

Critics of the Bono Act derisively named it the "Mickey Mouse Protection Act" based on the extensive lobbying of Disney for the legislation. They note that the last two times copyright has been set to run out on a large body of works, the law has been changed to extend the copyright period, giving effectively unlimited copyright duration.

Will books published in 1923 enter the U.S. public domain on January 1, 2019?

Resolution will be positive if media reports in January 2019 indicate that generally all books published in 1923 are now in the public domain in the U.S. (Exceptions based on unauthorized publication or similar unique circumstances will not invalidate this.)


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Metaculus help: Community Stats

Use the community stats to get a better sense of the community consensus (or lack thereof) for this question. Sometimes people have wildly different ideas about the likely outcomes, and sometimes people are in close agreement. There are even times when the community seems very certain of uncertainty, like when everyone agrees that event is only 50% likely to happen.

When you make a prediction, check the community stats to see where you land. If your prediction is an outlier, might there be something you're overlooking that others have seen? Or do you have special insight that others are lacking? Either way, it might be a good idea to join the discussion in the comments.

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