Why are we so happy? Because for the first time in 20 years new books, poems, music, and films will enter the Public Domain. Because of that, January 1, 2019, is Public Domain Day!!

Copyright is a limited-term set of rights given to creators, to let them control (or not) how they share their creations with others. US federal law limits the length of time copyright exists, to give others a chance to reuse and build upon that original work.

Laws change. Originally, copyright was granted for 75 years. Back in 1998, the laws were changed again, to grant 95 years of copyright protection to works. That means works copyrighted between 1923 and 1977 had to wait an extra 20 years. Since 1923 + 95 = 2018, once 2018 ended, items copyrighted in 1923 become available.

Here are a few of the items with a Hopkins connection that will enter the Public Domain on January 1, 2019.

The folks over at the Duke Law Center for the Study of the Public Domain have a lot more detail and some lists of cool things that are now freely and openly available! Some titles include

If you’re more interested in digital objects that weren’t formally published, like digitized manuscripts, diaries, letters, and other cultural heritage items, check out Rights Statements to learn how copyright applies – or not – to those items.