Today, copyrighted works from 1923 enter the public domain for the first time in 21 years.

Public Domain

The likes of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton are open to public domain reinterpretation.

Firstly, happy new year to you all. We hope 2019 is even more prosperous than 2018. If you’re a creative or a lover of the arts, today’s events might help with that.

1st January is Public Domain Day. What does that mean? Well, works of art from 1923 become the copyright-free to the public, meaning you can quote as much as you want wherever you want without attribution. The same will be said for works from 1924 next year, 1925 the year after and so on. Naturally, works before 1923 are also public domain unless otherwise set.

This was meant to take place a lot sooner if it wasn’t for an intervention by the US government. In 1998, congress signed a bill, sponsored by Sonny Bono (yes, that Sonny Bono) allowing a 20-year extension of the copyright term. According to Open Culture, “the legislation, aimed at protecting Mickey Mouse, created a ‘bizarre 20-year hiatus between the release of works from 1922 and 1923.'” Now that’s over, certain Mickey Mouse cartoons and appearances are free to remix without fear of Disney. Well, fear of Disney is never totally extinguished.

But what was released in 1923? A lot of stuff. Mostly silent movies, artwork from the Art Deco period, works from the Harlem Renaissance, early jazz compositions. If you love modernism as I do, this will be like uncovering a treasure trove.

Below you will find a list of works from 1923 and general content free from copyrights. Always remember to check works from any years prior to 1923 to make absolutely sure you follow any licence requirements (if there are any). And happy hunting!

Lists of public domain works from 1923 and more

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