Happy Public Domain Day: here are the works that copyright extension stole from you in 2015


Jennifer Jenkins writes, "What could have been entering the public domain in the US on January 1, 2015? Under the law that existed until 1978 -- Works from 1958. The films 'Attack of the 50 Foot Woman,' 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,' and 'Gigi,' the books 'Our Man in Havana,' 'The Once and Future King,' and 'Things Fall Apart,' the songs 'All I Have to Do Is Dream' and 'Yakety Yak,' and more -- What is entering the public domain this January 1? Not a single published work."

* Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart
* Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition
* Isaac Asimov (writing as Paul French), Lucky Starr and the Rings of Saturn
* Simone de Beauvoir, Mémoires d’une jeune fille rangée (Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter)
* Michael Bond, A Bear Called Paddington, with illustrations by Peggy Fortnum
* Eugene Burdick and William Lederer, The Ugly American
* Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s
* Agatha Christie, Ordeal by Innocence
* John Kenneth Galbraith, The Affluent Society
* Graham Greene, Our Man in Havana
* Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story
* Claude Lévi-Strauss, Anthropologie Structurale (Structural Anthropology)2
* Mary Renault, The King Must Die
* Dr. Seuss, Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories
* T.H. White, The Once and Future King

They truly are not of this world.What a trove of books—imagine these being freely available to students and educators around the world. You would be free to translate these books into other languages, create Braille or audio versions for visually impaired readers (if you think that publishers wouldn’t object to this, you would be wrong), or adapt them for theater or film. You could read them online or buy cheaper print editions, because others were free to republish them. (Empirical studies have shown that public domain books are less expensive, available in more editions and formats, and more likely to be in print—see here, here, and here.) Imagine a digital Library of Alexandria containing all of the world’s books from 1958 and earlier, where, thanks to technology, you can search, link, annotate, copy and paste. (Google Books has brought us closer to this reality, but for copyrighted books where there is no separate agreement with the copyright holder, it only shows three short snippets, not the whole book.) You could use these books in your own stories—The Once and Future King was free to draw upon Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur (a compilation of King Arthur legends) because Malory’s work was in the public domain. One tale inspires another. That is how the public domain feeds creativity. Instead of seeing these literary works enter the public domain in 2015, we will have to wait until 2054.

What Could Have Entered the Public Domain on January 1, 2015?

(Thanks, Jennifer)