Dating books dating books without copyrights
(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.) In addition, the expiration of copyright means that you’re free to use these materials, for education, for research, or for creative endeavors—whether it’s translating the books, making your own versions of the films, or building new music based on old classics.
Here are some of the works that will be entering the public domain in 2019.
One is Felix Salten’s , the basis for Disney’s famous movie. The 1947 film It’s A Wonderful Life entered the public domain in 1975 because its copyright was not properly renewed after the first 28-year term. Works from 1923 are finally entering the public domain, after a 95-year copyright term.
Salten first published it in Germany without a copyright notice in 1923, then republished it with a compliant copyright notice in 1926. The film had been a flop on release, but thanks to its public domain status, it became a holiday classic. Because TV networks were free to show it over and over again during the holidays, making the film immensely popular. However, under the laws that were in effect until 1978, thousands of works from 1962 would be entering the public domain this year.
And remember, this has not happened for over 20 years. Works from 1923 were set to go into the public domain in 1999, after a 75-year copyright term.“Copyright 1923 Charlie Chaplin”—when publishing it, or if you did not renew the copyright after 28 years.Current copyright law no longer has these requirements.However, a small subset of works—unpublished works that were not registered with the Copyright Office before 1978—have been entering the public domain after a life plus 70 copyright term.
But, because these works were never published, potential users are much less likely to encounter them.
Many of these works are lost entirely or literally disintegrating (as with old films and recordings), evidence of what long copyright terms do to the conservation of cultural artifacts.