A Bunch Of Great Content Just Entered The Public Domain

A Bunch Of Great Content Just Entered The Public Domain

It’s 2019, which means that for the first time in 20 years, some creative works have now entered the public domain in the US. Here’s a big list of stuff that’s now free!

Under the terms of the Sonny Bono Copyright Act, works first published in 1923 have entered the public domain, meaning anyone can re-publish them, or chop them up and use the You can record new versions of the musical compositions; you can show the movies for a profit; you can even remake them.m in other projects, without asking permission or paying the old rights holders.

Now bear in mind this is specific to US copyright law. However, Australians should still be able to access online versions of these movies, TV shows, art and books without any repercussions. Here’s are the highlights.


  • Cecil B. DeMille’s 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

See the rest here.


(Note that these are published songbooks, not recordings.)

  • “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”
  • “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”

See the rest here.


  • Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  • 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
  • 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

See the rest here and and these books.


  • 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

See the rest here.

It’ll still be a long time before any video games enter the public domain, though, which sucks.


  • It’s 2019, which means that for the first time in 20 years, some creative works have now entered the public domain in the US. Either I’m misunderstanding this or you need to do some research because works have been entering the public domain for the past 20 years, one notable example being “Happy Birthday to You” which was finally added in 2017 after a court case about it.

    • Ah, it was a misunderstanding on my part as the article did not actually explain the significance of the Sonny Bono Copyright Act that extended the natural expiry of copyright by 20 years meaning that in 1998, anything published in 1923 was locked in copyright for another 20 years. While there have still been instances of things passing into the public domain since then, they are works that should have passed into the public domain through expiry but did not because of various circumstances.

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