Happy Public Domain Day: works that would enter public domain today, but for copyright extension

Jennifer Jenkins from the Duke Center for the Public Domain writes, "What could have been entering the public domain in the US on January 1, 2014? Under the law that existed until 1978 -- Works from 1957. The books 'On The Road,' 'Atlas Shrugged,' and 'The Cat in the Hat,' the films 'The Bridge on the River Kwai,' '12 Angry Men,' and 'Funny Face,' the musical 'West Side Story' and the songs 'All Shook Up' and 'Great Balls of Fire,' and more -- What is entering the public domain this January 1? Not a single published work."

Current US law extends copyright for 70 years after the date of the author’s death, and corporate “works-for-hire” are copyrighted for 95 years after publication. But prior to the 1976 Copyright Act (which became effective in 1978), the maximum copyright term was 56 years – an initial term of 28 years, renewable for another 28 years. Under those laws, works published in 1957 would enter the public domain on January 1, 2014, where they would be “free as the air to common use.” (Mouse over any of the links below to see gorgeous cover art from 1957.) Under current copyright law, we’ll have to wait until 2053.1 And no published works will enter our public domain until 2019. The laws in Canada and the EU are different – thousands of works are entering their public domains on January 1.

What Could Have Entered the Public Domain on January 1, 2014? (Thanks, Jennifer!)

Notable Replies

  1. The laws in Canada and the EU are different – thousands of works are entering their public domains on January 1.

    Don't worry, lobbyists are working tirelessly to make those evil countries that hate authors extend copyright so zombie C.S. Lewis will have incentive to write.

  2. I don't understand, in the EU copyright extension is also 70 years after the author´s death, I'm missing something?

    As an EU citizen I demand to know what can I use to brag about the EU being superior to the USA!

  3. Culture... history... coffee...

  4. How funny that Atlas Shrugged, the bible of the current crop of sophomoric libertarian anti-government activists, would be free for anyone to use if not for those darn government regulations!

  5. teapot says:

    Aaaaaand this is why I gladly pirate anything, anytime.

    Rights holders expect us to play fair, but then rally together to fuck us over when it's time for them to play fair.

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