We were talking with reader Noel Taylor about the “Happy Birthday” song case and he made an interesting suggestion:
Instead of say that a work has “fallen into” the public domain or “lapsed into” the public domain, why not say that the work has been “elevated to” the public domain?
Think about it: how did “fall” and “lapse” become our default verbs for talking about the removal of a work’s monopoly restrictions? If anything, it makes sense to say that the restrictions are falling away, like chains falling away, but the work itself is not falling anywhere. It is unchained, and can now fly free.
So we’re going to try saying “elevate to the public domain” from now on, and we hope you’ll try it too. See how much better it makes you and others feel about the work in question!
We’ve updated the Question Copyright glossary accordingly.