In the United States of America, works of art including music, films and books created and copyrighted by artists and authors who died in 1924 are now entering the public domain in January 2020.
These 95-year-old copyrighted creations would have gone into the public domain in 2000 after their 75-year copyright term was over since most jurisdictions for copyright protections last the entirety of the creators’ lifetime, plus 75 years following their death. However, due to the 1998 Copyright Term Extension Act in the US, a further 20-years was added to this time due to a freeze on releasing copyrights.
The celebration of these works being released into public domain is often called Public Domain Day. Public Domain Day is an unofficial holiday credited to Wallace McLean, a Canadian public domain activist who created it with help from a lawyer and political activist called Lawrence Lessig.
“You are free to make use of this heritage in any way you want, by publishing, digitizing, compiling, translating, adapting, dramatizing, or treating the material in any other way,” McLean wrote in a 2004 email, “It’s yours to enjoy and share with whomever, whenever, in whatever way you want.”
Last year saw a large number of works move to the public domain as it was the first year after the 20-year copyright freeze. However, this year has also seen some great creations become available through public domain including these great literary works which can be accessed through the hard work of archivists at Project Gutenberg;