Copyright Law Day

January 1st is Copyright Law Day, a holiday for people to appreciate copyright laws and how they protect artists all around the world. Without copyright law, artists in all mediums wouldn’t be able to monetize their work and earn a proper living. People would just be able to rip off their work before they could get paid for it.

Fortunately, copyright law does exist, and while it’s not perfect, it does protect writers, poets, painters, filmmakers, and other artists. Another purpose of this holiday is to encourage people to enjoy works that have fallen into the public domain and maybe even rework them into a new original work.

The History of Copyright Law Day

The first copyright statute was enacted in the 18th century in Britain, but it wasn’t the first law that raised the issue of copyright. In 6th century Ireland, there was a dispute about the ownership of one of the oldest Irish writings, the Cathach. The ruling on this case would eventually lead to the Battle of Cúl Dreimhne, which just goes to show how contentious the issues of copyright can be.

The English Parliament enacted the Statute of Anne in 1710, and this became the first Copyright Act. This act gave publishers legal protection on books for a period of 14 years for new books or 21 years for books that were already in existence.

This act didn’t extend to North America because it was only a British colony. After the United States became a country, James Madison and Charles Cotesworth Pinckney submitted proposals to Congress for limited copyright and patent protection. This would lead to the Copyright Clause in the U.S. Constitution.

Unfortunately, we’re unsure of exactly when Copyright Law Day was enacted, although we do know that it’s been around for quite a while. It was placed on the first day of the year because all terms of copyright run through the end of the calendar year in which they would expire. This means that the first day of the year is when works enter the public domain after the expiration of their copyright term.

Observing Copyright Law Day

On this day, we encourage everyone to learn more about copyright and the history behind it. This day is also an excellent day to find out the copyright status of some of the works that you believe may have entered the public domain.

One way to do that is to consult the U.S. Copyright Office to find out if a particular work has fallen out of copyright protection. They maintain a website,, that contains a ton of useful information on copyright laws.

People can also use the U.S. Copyright Office’s website to electronically submit certain types of documents for recordation. We encourage everyone observing Copyright Law Day to take a few moments to also spread the word about this holiday online using the hashtag #CopyrightLawDay.

When is it?
This year (2024)
January 1 Monday
Next year (2025)
January 1 Wednesday
Last year (2023)
January 1 Sunday
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