Happy Public Domain Day (And Happy New Year)!


For twenty years, no “new” creative works published in the United States entered into the public domain. This hiatus gave corporations like Disney extra time to exploit their copyrights (you know, by threatening litigation or filing it whenever anyone dared to reference the copyrighted works without paying a licensing fee for the privilege).*

Today, the freeze is over. The public domain is growing again.

We are now able to quote liberally from, annotate, re-publish, or produce adaptations of materials published in 1923. Next year, we’ll be able to use works published in 1924, and the year after that, 1925, and so on (unless Congress intervenes to protect corporations again).

The expansion of the public domain–which belongs to all of us–is very exciting. I can’t wait to see what new authors do with these old works.

Of the three novels I’ve published, two of them are retellings of classic literature: Amelia Elkins Elkins, which is based on Persuasion by Jane Austen, and Anusha of Prospect Corner, an #OwnVoices twist on Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery.

And now, as of today, another book by L. M. Montgomery is available in the United States for adaptations: Emily of New Moon!

I’m hoping there are authors who are interested in re-imagining this wonderful classic (I’m looking at you, Jaclyn, but no pressure!).

So, readers & writers, are there works from 1923 that you’re hoping will return to life through adaptations now that their copyrights have expired?

To explore what’s new to the public domain as of today, check out this list from the HathiTrust.

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*I’ve written about greedy literary estates before. Here are few of those posts:

8 comments

  1. Yeah! As someone who regularly uses materials from hundred-year-old books, it’s wonderful to know that the hiatus in things moving to the public domain has finally ended. (1923 will be a hundred years ago before we know it.)

  2. I love Anne but actually prefer Emily. It’s nice to know her story will be readily accessible to the next generation! I think The Blue Castle will be coming up in a few years, which is another favorite of mine, although looking back it’s rather sappy, my teenage self was incredibly moved by the story.

  3. I can’t believe books from 1923 are just entering the public domain! I don’t know the details of how this works out in terms of authors being compensated fairly for their work, but for me, more than 50 years seems completely absurd.

  4. I’m so, so excited about this, and I love all the links you shared. Copyright disputes are fascinating to me. And I love that LM Montgomery keeps coming into the public domain and will go on doing in the years to come. Yay for public domain!

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