Standard Ebooks

Standard Ebooks and the public domain

All of our ebooks are texts that are thought to be in the public domain in the United States. We base our cover art designs on art that is also thought to be in the public domain in the United States.

Standard Ebooks puts significant work into designing, formatting, marking up, and hosting our ebooks. While some think we could, or even should, release our work with some kind of copyright notice, instead Standard Ebooks dedicates the entirety of each of our ebook files, including markup, cover art, and everything in between, to the public domain.

The public domain is a priceless resource for all of us, and for the generations after us. It’s a free repository of our culture going back centuries—a way for us to see where we came from and to chart where we’re going. It represents our collective cultural heritage.

In the past, copyright was a limited boon, designed not to enrich a creator and their children’s children a hundred years from now, but rather to allow a creator to profit by granting a temporary monopoly on reproduction, in exchange for their work to be returned to the public after a few years. Our ancestors—in fact, the framers of the U.S. Constitution—recognized that art builds on art, and that locking up culture benefits a handful but harms the greater public.

Today, large corporations are putting a lot of money into twisting our laws to slowly but surely strangle the public domain, making it increasingly remote and inaccessible so they can continue seeking rent on ideas and culture nearly a century old. Today laws lock up work not just for the author’s entire lifetime, but for the lifetime of their children, and their children. Copyright can’t enrich the dead, but it can enrich powerful corporations … at our—at everyone’s—expense.

Dedicating the work Standard Ebooks produces to the public domain is our small way of letting the world know how important it is to fight that. If corporations have their way, the last liberated and free culture you’ll ever have is what was published before 1929.

What a sad world that would be.