Happy Public Domain Day! After a drought of some 20 years in which no works of art became publicly available to the American people, this year's newly available content includes Winnie the Pooh, Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, TE Lawrence's The Seven Pillars of Wisdom (the source for Lawrence of Arabia), Agatha Christie's The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, and an estimated 400,000 sound recordings from before 1923. As Duke's Center for the Study of the Public Domain explains:
While US copyright law has covered compositions since 1831, it did not add the sound recording right until Feburary 15, 1972. The new right only covered recordings made from that date onward, leaving recordings made before 1972 subject to a confusing patchwork of state laws, with nothing becoming public domain until 2067. The 2018 "Music Modernization Act" brought all of those pre-1972 recordings under federal law and set a timeline for older recordings to gradually enter the public domain.
What will we celebrate in 2022? Everything from experiments with nascent sound recording technology in the late 1800s to opera, classical music, early blues and jazz, vaudeville, ragtime, popular songs, and comedy sketches. With so many recordings to choose from, we can only feature a few of them here. To listen to more recordings, check out the selections from the Association for Recorded Sound Collectionsand go to the Library of Congress National Jukebox—in 2022 the Library of Congress will make all of the pre-1923 recordings in its collection available for download from this site, while recordings from 1923 forward will be streaming-only until they are in the public domain.
Now go forth and remix!
This Bear's For You! (Or, Is It?) — Can Companies Use Copyright and Trademark To Claim Rights to Public Domain Works? [Jennifer Jenkins / Duke University Center for the Study of the Public Domain]