Happy New Year!

Odalisque with Arms Raised, Henri Matisse
Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19122307

It’s Christmas all over again in January! An avalanche of music, novels, films, and works of art first published in the U.S. in 1923 will enter the public domain this year. Public domain means anyone can sell those works without incurring any costs, but it also means that anyone can give them away for free. For those works of art falling into public domain this year, that means anyone can re-publish or chop them up and repurpose them in other projects. We can remix and repurpose old art into new works of art, which will then enter the public domain of future generations.

Because of the complicated history of U.S. copyright law—especially the 1998 “Sonny Bono Act” that successfully extended a copyright law from 50 to 70 years, it has been 20 years since such a massive collection of material has become available all at once. But now, and for several decades from 2019 forward, a full year’s worth of works published 95 years earlier will be unleashed.

Just a few examples of artwork coming into public domain this year are:

We are so jazzed for free access to (and to draw inspiration from) the very best (or the worst, and weirdest!) of 1923. And of 1924 in 2020, and 1925 and 2021, and the beat goes on and on …