Why We’re Crowdsourcing Art for Classic Book Covers

March 13, 2013

Written by Aaron Perry-Zucker on GOOD

The idea of the “public domain” goes all the way back to ancient Rome (probably further), where the law prohibited certain things from being owned by citizens because they existed for all to enjoy—like air, sunlight, and the ocean. As societies around the world advanced, copyright laws emerged to protect the interests of the content creators, and soon only work that was too old or uninteresting “fell” into the public domain.

In the United States, the first federal copyright legislation (the 1790 Copyright Act) set the maximum term of ownership for content creators at 14 years, with the ability to renew for another 14. Then Congress doubled that term (several times) before they changed it to the number of years after the life of the creator, then they added more time after that. Protecting copyright for 70 years after the creator’s death (as is the standard now) does a great job of protecting the large corporations and media companies with vaults of content to profit from, but this leaves that much less content for the rest of us to watch, remix, and enjoy without paying for it.

It doesn’t have to be so all-or-nothing. Content can and should be reasonably available to everyone—and content creators should be reasonably compensated. Luckily, new technologies for the creation and distribution of content are making this process more possible and democratic every day. Our latest project, Recovering The Classics, is an attempt to highlight just a glimpse of what’s possible when we embrace the public domain.

image

image

image

image

On May 28, we rolled out the beginnings of a crowdsourced collection of original book cover art for 50 of the greatest works of fiction in the public domain, including Moby Dick and Les Miserables, and we’ll be selling those books with their new covers as high quality ebook and paperback editions printed by the Harvard Bookstore. Because these classics have fallen into the public domain, artists from around the world now have the opportunity to re-cover these classic books and share them anew, without requiring a license from the copyright holder. Book lovers get fresh content, artists get exposure and get paid—and if the content creators were around today, they would see new audiences experiencing their work.

It’s time to reclaim the public domain for its original purpose: making information and beauty accessible to everyone. 





Also in News

Meet Annie Riker, a See America Artist Who Inspired Merrell Shoes & Wyeth Hats!
Meet Annie Riker, a See America Artist Who Inspired Merrell Shoes & Wyeth Hats!

June 10, 2021

We'd love to tell you about Annie Riker, an artist out of Asheville, North Carolina. She's a surface designer and illustrator who over the years has contributed her national park posters and sticker designs to CAN. This spring her Appalachian Trail design inspired two See America product launches, Merrell trail running shoes and Wyeth hats! Annie is a former Creative Director for the NPCA and we're so grateful that her national park expertise, love of nature, creative spirit and illustration skills landed her in our community where her work can do so much good. You can see Annie's designs online at CAN and be sure to check out her Merrell trail running shoes and Wyeth hat project, too, all helping support Earthjustice organization. We know you'll enjoy reading all about Annie!

Continue Reading

We Partnered with Merrell (Again!) on See America Art Inspired Trail Running Shoes
We Partnered with Merrell (Again!) on See America Art Inspired Trail Running Shoes

May 27, 2021

Know who loves the outdoors and helping good causes as much as we do? Merrell! We enjoyed our first collaboration with them so much we did it again – introducing a new line of trail running shoes inspired by See America posters of our nation's most celebrated through-hikes, the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail and the Continental Divide Trail. One part inspiration and one part commemoration, the new shoe collection helps support Earthjustice organization. Integral to this project are the amazing poster designs from artists Brooke FischerJonathan Scheele and Annie Riker, and we hope you really love reading the story of how this project came to be. Huge thanks to Merrell for always being down to party with us in support of a worthy organization, not once but twice! 

Continue Reading

Put Up Your Feet Mom, You Deserve It! Our 2021 Mother's Day Gift Guide 🌺
Put Up Your Feet Mom, You Deserve It! Our 2021 Mother's Day Gift Guide 🌺

April 01, 2021

Mother's Day is coming up on Sunday, May 9th and we can't think of a better time in history to celebrate moms! Moms are modern superheroes and we think they deserve special recognition for all the extra hours on the clock this past year. Our 2021 Mother's Day gift guide has fun suggestions on how to make this year extra special for your mom, grandma and all the deserving ladies in your life, with unique gift ideas like Maya Angelou socks, Women of Star Trek puzzles and the cutest little RBG baby onesie for new and expecting moms. And so much more! Proceeds from our Mother's Day gift guide help support UltraViolet feminist organization, giving back to women and girls with every sale. Happy Mother's Day to all you wonderful hardworking moms! 

Continue Reading