Recognized annually on January 1st, Public Domain Day marks the occasion when the copyright of some creative work expires. Once in the province of public domain, people can freely use and consume the work, which is beneficial as many of them are historically, culturally, or artistically significant.
Some important works in the Philippines in the public domain include the writings of Jose Rizal, including both Noli Me Tángere and El Filibusterismo, and the epic poems Florante at Laura and Ibong Adarna by Francisco Balagtas and José de la Cruz respectively.
While the public domain is extremely beneficial for great historical works, it has not usually been associated with modern writing. Such is unfortunate as recently published books may provide readers insight and information into current events, major trends, and relevant skills, but will not be accessible for a very long time (copyright expiration in the Philippines is the date of the author’s death, plus fifty years). This knowledge thus remains kept in a kind of walled garden, accessible to only the Filipinos with the disposable income to buy books.
Bookshelf PH, an online marketplace and boutique publisher for books, e-books, and audiobooks, wants to challenge this notion. The organization is launching 17 individual non-fungible tokens (NFTs), each representing a chapter from its recent bestseller, The E-Hustle: What the Country’s Best Digital Leaders Can Teach You About Launching and Growing Your Online Business.