Welcome to the public domain, 1923
Art Law

Welcome to the public domain, 1923

On Jan. 1, 2019, all books, movies, photos and songs originally published in the United States in 1923 entered the public domain. On Jan. 1, 2020, the same will happen to works published in 1924, and so on. For this reason, January 1 is dubbed Public Domain Day. In 1998, the Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act (derisively referred to as the “Mickey Mouse Act”) added twenty years of copyright protection to all works created or published in the United States. The last Public Domain Day happened was January 1, 1998, when all works from 1922 were freed of their copyright restrictions. The public domain has no central database. The public domain is a concept; when a work is no longer subject to copyright protection, it is in the public domain. Using a Creative Commons license, artists and content creators of all kinds can enter their work into the public domain long before their copyright would expire. Copyright laws are super complicated — with enough legal jargon to dissuade anyone from fully understanding them. But basically, by default , anything you make — a photo taken on your iPhone or a stick figure drawing — receives the protection established by […]

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