January 1 is Public Domain Day, in observance of the date when copyrights expire and works enter the public domain. This legal transition usually happens every year on 1 January, based on the individual copyright laws of each country.
The United States has one of the more restrictive copyright laws. In 1998 Congress passed the Copyright Term Extension Act, variously called the Sonny Bono Act and the Mickey Mouse Protection Act, which increased the U.S. copyright license from 70 to 95 years.
Today is a particularly auspicious day because every work published in 1923 will fall out of copyright protection—something that hasn’t happened in 40 years. Read more about this discussion from tech policy writer, Timothy B. Lee.
As a graphic artist, I extensively use images downloaded from the Internet. And as obsessively detail-oriented, I try to comply with the copyright laws, which is very difficult to do because 90% of the images on the web are not attributed and 99% are not attributed correctly. I am proudly part of the 1%. This image, for example, is the Creative Commons logo which I downloaded from their website, which, according to their policy, is its only legal source.