Public Domain Day 2022

10 Feb 2022 | online

Every year we organise Public Domain Day together with Ghent University Library, the Royal Library of Belgium and Wikimedia Belgium. This year the event to highlight the public domain will be taking place on 10 February. Register now to find out about initiatives that various cultural heritage organisations have run to make their public domain collections accessible in 2021. The panel discussion on (re)using content also shouldn’t be missed!

What and why?

The public domain is the collection of all creative works that are not subject to exclusive intellectual property rights (anymore), such as copyrights and other related rights. A new set of works becomes available in the public domain every year in Belgium as copyright protection expires 70 years after the death of the author or artist.

This new legal status doesn’t mean that works can automatically be accessed straight away, however. Public Domain Day therefore draws attention from all over the world to the fact that there are still often legal, financial, technical and institutional barriers that prevent the general public from gaining access to this content even after its copyright protection has expired.

Meemoo has been co-organising Public Domain Day since 2018, with the aim of providing best practices for making public domain collections available. This event gives heritage institutions the chance to share what progress they have made. It could be for a small collection of works that used to be subject to copyrights which have now expired, or for providing access to works in a collection that haven’t been covered by copyright for a longer period already.

Public Domain Day 2022

The monastery of Cava (Italy), by Edouard de Vigne, MSK Ghent collection,, photographer Hugo Maertens, CC0

Discussions about making digital collections as openly accessible as possible have slowly becoming less relevant ever since European copyright laws were reformed. It has become increasingly commonplace not to impose any new restrictions on providing access to reproductions of works from the public domain, and indeed this has now also become part of Flemish Government policy.

We therefore want this edition of Public Domain Day to go further than just the matter of principle. What can be done with public domain collections once they’ve been made accessible? We’ll discuss what we mean by creative (re)use in a panel discussion.

And, as has become customary, we’ll close the event with the winners of Wiki Loves Heritage 2021. Wikimedia Belgium organises this annual photography competition so that more images of Belgian heritage can be made available to use online. At Public Domain Day 2022, they’ll also be presenting the Wikimedian in Residence initiative. This involves the organisation going in search of museums or heritage institutions that would like to employ a Wikipedian – with the help of donations from Friends of Wikimedia Belgium Fund – on one hand to upload content to Wikimedia platforms, and on the other to organise activities to improve the visibility of these digital collections and increase their re-use.

Who for?

Do you want to find out what initiatives your organisation can set up to make public domain collections accessible? And would you like to share thoughts and ideas with other interested parties? Then Public Domain Day could be just what you or your organisation are looking for.


Together with Ghent University Library, Royal Library of Belgium, Wikimedia Belgium and Collections of Ghent, we’ve prepared the following programme:

  • 14.00 - 14.15: Introduction: What is the public domain?

  • 14.15 - 15.00: OpenGLAM showcase of various institutions in the heritage sector that have made public domain collections accessible in 2021.

  • 15.00 - 15.45: Panel discussion: Why make public domain collections accessible?

    Panel members:

    • Dieter Suls - Antwerp Fashion Museum

    • Diethard Vlaeminck - KOERS

    • Olivier Van D'huynslager - Designmuseum Ghent

    • Sofie Teugels - Collections of Ghent

  • 15.40 - 15.50: Wiki Loves Heritage 2021 award ceremony and the launch of the Wikimedian in Residence project.

  • 15.50 - 16.00: Wrap-up

Practical information

Public Domain Day is taking place online on 10 February (14.00 - 16.00). All the talks will be held in English.

Participation is free and registration is open until 9 February.


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