About the public domain dedication
To the extent possible under law, Jan V. White has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to Graphic Design for the Electronic Age, Using Charts and Graphs, Mastering Graphics, Color for the Electronic Age, Color for Impact, Great Pages, and Designing for Magazines. These works are published from: United States.
Xerox Corporation reserves all rights to the Xerox Publishing Standards, but has granted permission for the Internet Archive to digitize and preserve it, and for readers to download a copy for personal use. All uses of the Xerox Publishing Standards require the notice, “Provided courtesy of Xerox Corporation.”
All of these books are comprehensive, instructive design references. Although some were published thirty years ago, their content still applies in today’s world of ebooks and web pages as it did in their world of offset presses and desktop publishing.
But, their publishers no longer saw value in them, so they are out-of-print. As library collections grow shallower, used copies are the only way to read them, and prices vary wildly.
If Jan V. White had not dedicated his books to the public domain, they might have remained out of print — and thus generally unavailable to read, to learn from, to adapt into new media — until January 1, 2085.
Modern copyright policies have a few down sides.
The copyright clock starts ticking not at the time of creation, but at the death of the author. For seventy more years, the author’s heirs can continue to protect their parent’s and grandparent’s work. For evergreen works, still generating royalties, this is interesting for that author’s estate.
But, most works are like Jan V. White’s books. They have a limited practical lifespan from the perspective of their publishers. When the author dies, their books will have been out-of-print for decades. Their children might not even know those works exist, or what their rights are.
Worse, if an author has no direct descendants, figuring out who controls the rights may be impossible, leaving the books as orphan works, unable to be reused or reprinted.
While Jan V. White was still alive, he saw the value in freeing his books. Designers and students of design will be able to not just read them, but rewrite them, remix them, republish them, and transform them in unforseeable ways now, not only seventy years from now.
Upon the completion of the digitization of his books, he wrote, “This 84-year-old thanks you for your gift of remaining extant forever.” His works now have the chance to become cultural artifacts, not just design relics.
If you create works covered under copyright, I encourage you to consider proactively limiting your term, and having a plan for freeing your works, whether dedicating them in your will, or freeing them ahead of time. (When copyright terms were limited to fifteen years plus the ability to renew, 85% of authors did not renew their copyrights.)
If you appreciate having these works available, I encourage you to donate to the Internet Archive, which provides for digitization and preservation of all manner of works.