Only true copyright geeks will find this exciting, but the picture below is the frontispiece from James Thomson’s The Seasons, published by Alexander Donaldson in 1774, and the subject of one of the most famous copyright cases of all time, Donaldson v. Beckett. In that case, the House of Lords rejected perpetual common law copyright. (They didn’t imagine that both in the UK and in a yet to be created country called the United States of America, the legislature would strive to produce statutory “perpetual copyrights on the installment plan” Peter Jaszi’s wonderful phrase.) When I stepped down as chair of Creative Commons, the board and some of the staff presented me with this book, a very nice bottle of champagne and a book called “Asses I Have Kissed” the pages of which were entirely blank. The roast made me feel undeserving, the champagne tasted great, Asses I Have Kissed made me laugh, but the sensation of holding in my hand a 235 year old book — a fragile assemblage of paper that has outlasted all of the people alive when it was made — was both eery and wonderful. Thank you, CC!
To the extent possible under law, James Boyle has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to: Photograph of Frontispiece – The Seasons by James Thomson Published by Alexander Donaldson. This work is published from the United States.
(Of course, in the United States, there was never any copyright on the photograph in the first place because it lacked sufficient originality. But CC0 provides extra certainty for other jurisdictions.)