1923 Copyrighted Works that Enter the Public Domain in 2019

Reply Sat 5 Jan, 2019 12:59 pm

All these movies, including:

Cecil B. DeMille’s (first, less famous, silent version of) The Ten Commandments
Harold Lloyd’s Safety Last!, including that scene where he dangles off a clock tower, and his Why Worry?
A long line-up of feature-length silent films, including Buster Keaton’s Our Hospitality and Charlie Chaplin’s The Pilgrim
Short films by Chaplin, Keaton, Laurel and Hardy, and Our Gang (later Little Rascals)
Cartoons including Felix the Cat (the character first appeared in a 1919 cartoon)
Marlene Dietrich’s film debut, a bit part in the German silent comedy The Little Napoleon; also the debuts of Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Fay Wray

“Dizzy Fingers”
Image: Mills Music
All this music, including these classics:

“King Porter Stomp”
“Who’s Sorry Now?”
“Tin Roof Blues”
“That Old Gang of Mine”
“Yes! We Have No Bananas”
“I Cried for You”
“The Charleston”—written to accompany, and a big factor in the popularity of, the Charleston dance
Igor Stravinsky’s “Octet for Wind Instruments”
And these songs I picked purely based on their titles:

“Back To Croa-Jingo-Long”
“I’m Sitting Pretty In A Pretty Little City”
“Come On, Spark Plug!”
“Dizzy Fingers”
“I’ve Got The Yes! We Have No Bananas Blues”
“When It’s Night-Time In Italy, It’s Wednesday Over Here”
“Oh Gee Oh Gosh Oh Golly I’m In Love”
“Old King Tut”
“Horsey, Keep Your Tail Up”
Note that these are published songbooks, not recordings, meaning you can record a cover version without permission or payment, but you can’t just steal any post-1923 recording. So Connie Francis’s version of “Who’s Sorry Now?” is still under copyright.

Even worse, rights over music recorded until 1972 is governed by state law, and if its copyright was registered and renewed, it doesn’t automatically enter the public domain until 2067.

Virginia Woolf
Photo: George Charles Beresford
This is the real good ****. All these books, and these books, including the classics:

Cane by Jean Toomer
The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
Bambi by Felix Salten, illustrated by Barbara Cooney—the source of Disney’s animated film, and the first in a series
The Ego and the Id by Sigmund Freud
Towards a New Architecture by Le Corbusier
Whose Body?, the first Lord Peter Wimsey novel by Dorothy L. Sayers
Short story “Mrs. Dalloway in Bond Street” by Virginia Woolf
Emily of New Moon, the first book of L.M. Montgomery’s Emily trilogy
The Inimitable Jeeves and Leave it to Psmith by P.G. Wodehouse
Two of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot novels, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and The Murder on the Links
The Prisoner, volume 5 of Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time (note that English translations have their own copyrights)
The Complete Works of Anthony Trollope
George Bernard Shaw’s play Saint Joan
Short stories by Christie, Virginia Woolf, H.P. Lovecraft, Katherine Mansfield, and Ernest Hemingway
Poetry by Edna St. Vincent Millay, E.E. Cummings, William Carlos Williams, Rainer Maria Rilke, Wallace Stevens, Robert Frost, Sukumar Ray, and Pablo Neruda
Works by Jane Austen, D.H. Lawrence, Edith Wharton, Jorge Luis Borges, Mikhail Bulgakov, Jean Cocteau, Italo Svevo, Aldous Huxley, Winston Churchill, G.K. Chesterton, Maria Montessori, Lu Xun, Joseph Conrad, Zane Grey, H.G. Wells, and Edgar Rice Burroughs

Brancusi’s Bird in Space
Photo: Art Poskanzer
These artworks, including:

Constantin Brâncuși’s Bird in Space
Henri Matisse’s Odalisque With Raised Arms
Marcel Duchamp’s The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass)
Yokoyama Taikan’s Metempsychosis
Work by M. C. Escher, Pablo Picasso, Wassily Kandinsky, Max Ernst, and Man Ray
Many 1923 works, like the blockbuster film The Hunchback of Notre Dame, are already in the public domain, as the owners failed to renew their copyrights. Until 1963, a rightsholder had to manually renew their copyright after 28 years.

According to the LibraryLaw Blog, not everything published in 1923 will be public domain; only works with an authorized publication in 1923. The distinction came up in the legal fight over the rights to “Happy Birthday to You,” whose current owners maintained that the song had only been published by unauthorized sources, without the permission of the original owners. (The bad song was eventually ruled public domain for other reasons.) So if you’re worried about litigious rightsholders, make sure the 1923 publication isn’t considered some stolen unauthorized version.

Remember, the works above only lose their copyright on January 1, 2019. Double-check before you use anything listed above, and watch out for all the many ways that works can enter, or not enter, the public domain. Remember that certain uses of copyrighted works are protected as fair use. And check out the many existing collections of already rights-free works, and freely available copyrighted works.

Correction 7/1/18: Corrected which Virginia Woolf work was first published in 1923
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Reply Fri 22 Feb, 2019 04:48 am
Oh, thank you for this information!
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