Updated: Jan 5, 2021
~1925, Welcome to the Domain~
Today we welcome the copyrighted literary works of 1925 to the Public Domain. Yay!
I personally like to think of the US public domain as a sort of "literature afterlife" in the sense that the public domain is basically the last stop for literary works who lived a long and happy copyrighted lifespan of 70 years. However, creative works of 1925 got an additional 20 years added onto their copyright thanks to Congress, and were able to live to the ripe old age of 95 before joining us in the public domain.
So let's take a look at the language.
First of all, we have copyright which encompasses a medium of "original works of authorship" such as literary, dramatic, musical, artistic and intellectual works. I love the ambiguity of authorship and the juxtaposition of creative and intellectual works. The truth is, this "medium" of authorship exists in the world boundlessly. Authorship is born of ideas and ideas exist before we realize them, and once we pursue them and put them into action their effects outlive us.
Opinion: ideas, like words, are only borrowed. We take ideas from one source and use it in our own language or work while we're here and the cycle goes on and on (just ask any professor who wants you to "find sources" for your thesis!).
So here we have a boundless medium of authorship that as a culture, we entrap by putting a lifespan on it. And that lifespan is eerily analogous to the average lifespan of a human being (about 79 years). Does anyone else see the irony?! Copyright is designed to outlive us. In fact, as a general rule for works created after January 1, 1978, copyright protection lasts for the life of the author plus the additional 70 years. I'm not raining on copyright by any means, in fact, I find the entire process absolutely fascinating; it is the ultimate acknowledgement that the written word cannot ever truly die. Not after the death of the author and not even after 70 years...
We're on a roll, let's keep going. Next, we have...
public domain: the state of belonging or being available to the public as a whole, and therefore not subject to copyright.
This is some meta stuff. The state of belonging to the public as a whole?! Especially if we narrow our focus to literary works. It almost sounds like our authorship belongs to the universe...as if, there is a space between the infinite and the physical where millions of writers' voices exist...LOL! We're in The Literary Matrix, folks.
Now we've come full circle. The public domain is certainly the literature afterlife and here it shall stay, existing as part of The Literary Matrix.
On a wonderful side note, let's take a quick look into what specific literary works will be joining us in the public domain!
The big one everyone's here for: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, as well as
In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
The Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie
The Writing of Fiction by Edith Wharton
...and many, many more, including author Alain Locke and music, literature and films inspired by The Harlem Renaissance.
Wishing all of you the happiest New Year! Let's make 2021 a year of success!
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