Slobodna domena Zadruga za otvoreni kod i dizajn

Croatia is ahead of time!

Back to the future Marty!

Are you aware of the fact that Croatia is ahead of time regarding author's rights? This is, of course, only a joke referring to the fact that with changes of the copyright law brought in 1999. copyright claims were prolonged from 50 to 70 years. This law did not include works retroactively, so we have a paradox situation where works by authors who died before 1948 became a part of the public domain, and since 1999 Croatia was waiting and not releasing anything new into public domain but has been waiting for other countries with similar laws to also reach 1948. That's how Croatia is ahead of time.

It is questionable how meaningful is such prolonged copyright protection. If the authors have died, it's hard to defend the position that copyright has something to do with author's rights. As an old saying says: If you're gone, you can not have a piece of pie. It's possible to imagine that such laws were set to protect ancestors, spouses, children, but it doesn't sound right that protection should last for 70 years, for almost another lifetime. The answer why copyright protection lasts so long should be searched in the fact that author's rights are goods, and that copyright has nothing to do with authors but with property over works. The law is not defending the ancestors but property.

Let's get back to year 2019., ups it's 1948. When the clock ticks midnight on 31st December 2019, time will start passing again in Croatia, again after 20 years of standstill. Then the public domain will symbolically start expanding again. Works of Vladimir Nazor, Janko Leskovar and Oton Župančić will become part of the public domain. That is just a symbolic moment and it will mean something only to school book publishers since they will not have to worry about copyright for those authors anymore. But in another way symbolic aspect of this moment is significant because then we will again start to liberate those literature characters from lawyer's drawers, musical tunes from house arrest, visual works from restricted movement protocols. It's quite appropriate that in 2019 Richard Strauss' "Also sprach Zarathustra", a well know music theme from the movie "2001: Space odyssey", will also cross to public domain. So if you hear that tune in a commercial, now you'll know why it's there.

This liberation of works is enforced by law, but author's rights can also be regulated differently. Works can become common goods, if authors decide to publish them under Open Source or Creative Commons licences.

Copyright and author's rights are probably the most intense field of conflict between investors' and public interest. The need to redefine copyright became obvious when digital technologies came to scene. We at Slobodna domena do not completely oppose the concept of authorship or claim that nothing ever needs to be licensed. We just want to actively build a world in which copyright will not block progress, stand between public and private interests.