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For First Time in Digital Age, a Copyright Bonanza Is Here

Thousands of works from 1923 about to enter the public domain
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 27, 2018 12:30 PM CST
This handout photo provided by the National Portrait Gallery shows Robert Frost, by Clara Sipprell Gelatin, c. 1955.   (AP Photo/Clara Sipprell Gelatin, National Portrait Gallery)
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(Newser) – Next Tuesday isn't just New Year's Day, it's also Public Domain Day. If the term isn't familiar, it's because the US hasn't had one in two decades. On Jan. 1, thousands of published works from 1923 will enter the public domain, freeing them up for anyone to use however they'd like. Robert Frost's poem "Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening" is one, as is Charlie Chaplin's film The Pilgrim, and the song "Yes, We Have No Bananas." And many, many more. Details and background:

  • Pause is over: The nation has not seen a mass expiration of works protected by copyright law in 21 years. That's because, in 1998, Congress "hit a two-decade pause button" and added 20 years to the copyright restrictions due to expire that year, explains a post at Duke Law. The pause expires at the first of the year.
  • What's being released: Duke Law has a comprehensive list in PDF form via its main story here. Highlights in different categories follow.
  • Books: Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan and the Golden Lion, Agatha Christie's The Murder on the Links, Aldous Huxley's Antic Hay, and Jean Toomer's Cane are among them. As is Robert Frost's collection New Hampshire, which includes the "Snowy Evening" poem. Works by Carl Sandburg, Edith Wharton, EE Cummings, and DH Lawrence are also on the list.

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