Works from 1923 finally enter public domain

“No published works have entered our public domain since 1998.” Why the drought? “Works from 1923 were set to go into the public domain in 1999, after a 75-year copyright term. But in 1998 Congress hit a two-decade pause button and extended their copyright term for 20 years, giving works published between 1923 and 1977 an expanded term of 95 years.” Works from 1923 that became publicly available this week include (silent) films Safety Last, The Ten Commandments, and Our Hospitality, various novels by P.G. Wodehouse, Agatha Christie, Aldous Huxley, and Virginia Woolf, musical compositions Who’s Sorry Now, Charleston, and Yes, We Have No Bananas, and Robert Frost’s poem “Stopping By Woods On a Snowy Evening.” [Center for the Study of the Public Domain, Duke Law] “And assuming Congress doesn’t interfere, more works will fall into the public domain each January from now on.” Among those in the next few years: Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. [Timothy Lee, ArsTechnica; link fixed now] Earlier here, here, and here; given shifts in public opinion, trade associations for rights holders did not attempt to pass another extension this time.

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