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The Public Domain Expands

Fri, February 1, 2019 2:30 PM to Fri, March 1, 2019 2:30 PM

As of January 2019, the public domain in the United States expanded for the first time in 20 years. Since the Sonny Bono Copyright Act of 1998, 1923 had been the cut-off year in which books published in the United States could be assumed to be out of copyright. On this January first, the cut-off year advanced by a year to 1924. Without future copyright law changes, the cut-off year will continue to increase by one every January first until 2073. This will place tens of thousands of works each year into the public domain which Americans may then may read, share, translate, or reimagine.

HathiTrust was prepared for this event. They created a collection of over 53,000 works including novels, poems, journals and musical scores published in the United States in 1923 that now are available, a substantial expansion of the public domain.

Over 14,000 volumes of HathiTrust’s 1923 Collection were digitized from the University of California Libraries. These newly opened UC volumes include compositions by Béla Bartók and Ernest Bloch; novels by Edith Wharton, P.G. Wodehouse, Aldous Huxley, and Dorothy Richardson; poems by W. B. Yeats, Robert Frost, and Edna St. Vincent Millay; and works by Albert Einstein and Woodrow Wilson. The complete works of playwright Oscar Wilde, the collected works of naturalist W.H. Hudson, and the complete short stories of Joseph Conrad are also included.