Why Does the Public Domain Matter?

I listen to NPR while I drive. I say that not to sound super smart or particularly informed, but because when I try to listen to music with my kids in the car, they try to argue about who gets to pick music and most of them like things the radio is not currently (or EVER) going to play, so people are disappointed. Also, as a homeschool mom, NPR has less questionable content (as far as swearing) and far fewer commercials. I believe in listening to music, and that music is an important part of learning, but so is knowing how the people around you view the world.


A few years ago, there was a story on NPR about how a few libraries had received donations of large collections of films that they were initially not super excited about, so they relegated to a corner of a basement. But they later realized that some of the films they received were no longer circulating, and that they had, in fact, received some of the only remaining copies. This meant digitizing all the films before they could be lost, stolen, or just before they literally disintegrated. 


Sometimes, we humans lose or destroy things. Ha, ok, often times we lose and destroy things. Regularly and on purpose, in fact. And occasionally, nobody will miss those things. Much like a box of clothes you forgot and have not unpacked in the last 2 moves, these things could go away forever and we would not have blinked or cried. Sometimes, however, we forget that Iranian angels were depicted with rainbow hued wings. Sometimes we forget all the insane, and ugly, ways the Christ child has been depicted in art. Sometimes, we find an app that we can use to see people that may resemble us in famous (or less famous) paintings. Sometimes we just find something that speaks to us in a way that art, or film, or poetry has never spoken to us before. 


Public domain things are important, and because they are not new, or shiny (sometimes), they are in more danger of being lost. They can remind us of the past, shore up the present, or even give us a hint of the future. 


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