On January 1 2021, many famous works including 'The Great Gatsby' by F. Scott Fitzgerald will enter the public domain

January 1 is not only New Year’s Day, but also Public Domain Day. This is the day where certain previously copyrighted works enter the public domain, allowing anyone to use or creatively reinterpret them without needing to seek permission or pay a fee.

In 2021, copyrighted works from 1925 will enter the US public domain, and the list of books, movies and songs included is an impressive one. The BBC has even stated that 1925 could well be the greatest year for books, ever.

The Internet Archive, which tomorrow will be hosting an event featuring thought leaders in copyright, creative reuse, intellectual property and social justice, has compiled a list of the key books and films from 1925 that will be free for all to use on January 1. These are:


Books First Published in 1925

Movies Released in 1925

Other works, not listed by the Internet Archive that will also enter the US public domain in January include Ernest Hemingway’s In Our Time, Agatha Christie’s The Secret of Chimneys, Aldous Huxley’s Those Barren Leaves and Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy.

Jennifer Jenkins at Duke Law’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain notes:

Works from 1925 were supposed to go into the public domain in 2001, after being copyrighted for 75 years. But before this could happen, Congress hit a 20-year pause button and extended their copyright term to 95 years. Now the wait is over.

Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, which also first came out in 1925, isn’t included in the list as its copyright is more complicated. In Germany the book entered the public domain at midnight on January 1, 2016, when the copyright for it -- held by the government of the German state of Bavaria -- expired. In the US, copyright for the book is held by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt which has published copies of the book since 1933, and purchased the rights to it from the US government (which had seized them under the Trading with the Enemy Act during World War II) for $37,254 in 1979.

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