2019 Australia’s Year of the Public Domain

As of 1 January 2019, millions of items from our national collections – from Captain Cook’s carrot marmalade recipe and Henry Lawson’s letters, to war posters and theses – will fall out of copyright for the first time, finally becoming free for all to use.

This wealth of new material is a result of changes to copyright law introduced by the​ Copyright Amendment (Disability Access and other Measures) Act 2017, and some of the amazing things that will be freed up by the new provisions include:

  • Captain Cook’s diaries and Jane Austen’s correspondence held at the National Library of Australia.
  • Ephemera from both World Wars, including posters, postcards, and advertising.
  • Handwritten manuscripts and letters from numerous Australian poets, including famed miners’ poet and socialist, Marie Pitt.
  • Soldiers’ letters home, including love letters from acclaimed WWII RAAF pilot, Charles Learmonth.
  • Indigenous language research from the papers of former Protector of Aborigines Archibald Meston.
  • The personal papers of former Australian politicians, including Governor General Sir Isaac Isaacs and Prime Minister of Australia Sir ​Edmund Barton.

To celebrate this great cultural windfall, Australia’s libraries and archives are declaring 2019 the Year of the Public Domain. As a start, in January Australia’s libraries and archives will begin releasing the new public domain materials, flicking the switch for them to be reused by all. So why not visit Trove and try searching to see what you can find? If you have trouble using Trove, check out the National Library’s support site, or please contact us at the Library.

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