Celebrating Public Domain Day 2021

Today is Public Domain Day; the day that we celebrate new works that have entered the public domain. This year, we welcome works first registered or published in the United States in 1925. Works published during that time, that met all required formalities, enjoyed a maximum term of copyright protection of 95 years. With copyright term running to the end of the calendar year, works first published in 1925 officially enter the public domain in the U.S. on January 1, 2021.

Public domain works are free of copyright. This means they may be freely copied, adapted, distributed, performed and displayed, without permission from a rightsholder.

A Selection of Public Domain Works

Below are just some of the creative works that have entered the public domain in the United States this year:


  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  • Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis
  • The Informer by Liam O’Flaherty
  • Manhattan Transfer by John Dos Passos
  • An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
  • In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway
  • Gentleman Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos


  • The Circle, directed by Frank Borzage
  • Clash of the Wolves, directed by Noel Smith
  • Go West, directed by Buster Keaton
  • Seven Chances, directed by Buster Keaton
  • Grass: A Nation’s Battle for Life, directed by Merian Cooper and Ernest Shoedsack
  • The Freshman, directed by Fred Newmeyer and Sam Taylor and starring Harold Lloyd


  • “Sweet Georgia Brown” by Ben Bernie, Kenneth Casey & Maceo Pinkard
  • “That Certain Feeling” by Ira and George Gershwin
  • “Sugar Foot Stomp” by Joe Oliver and Louis Armstrong
  • “Always” by Irving Berlin

Celebrating the Public Domain at OSU

The Public Domain Day Project at OSU continues this year to highlight and share public domain musical compositions.

We are offering a variety of 1925 works from the Music & Dance Library collections and creative projects, including: musical settings of fourteen children’s poems by A. A. Milne (featuring the first appearance of Winnie-the-Pooh) for voice and piano; a set of art songs inspired by the city of Paris, by American composer Kathleen Lockhart Manning; a piano solo by American avant-garde composer Henry Cowell; and popular sheet music by two Cleveland-based musicians, including a song inspired by a sensational 1920s serial fiction story in The Cleveland Press.

Visit the Music Scores & Audio page on the Public Domain Day Project site for access to available items, with more to be added throughout 2021.

Interested in learning more about the public domain? Explore the Public Domain Day website to learn more about the Public Domain Project at OSU, access public domain music scores and select audio recordings (dedicated to the public domain via Creative Commons CC0), and to view additional copyright and public domain resources.

Public Domain Christmas Songs (Part II)

A few years ago, we shared a blog post detailing some of the most popular Christmas songs that could be found in the public domain. These songs, many dating back to the 1700s and 1800s, are free to share, reproduce, or perform with no permissions or licensing needed.

Which Christmas songs entered the public domain this year?

Following the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998, songs that were first registered or published in the United States before January 1, 1978 could receive a maximum term of protection of 95 years from the date of publication. This means that Christmas songs first registered or published in the United States in 1924 received a maximum term of protection through 2019 (1924+95 years). With copyright term running to the end of the calendar year, works first published in the U.S. entered the public domain in the U.S. on January 1st of this year.

In order to receive the maximum term of protection, a song first published in 1924 would require inclusion of a valid copyright notice and renewal of the copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office. That renewal had to have been made in the 28th year following publication. Failure to include a notice or file timely renewal would mean that the song would at that point enter the public domain. Copyright formalities have changed over time, but the charts found in Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States can help you navigate the requirements.

How do you check to see if a song was renewed? Copyright renewals and registrations were recorded in the Catalog of Copyright Entries (CCE). These records have been scanned and made available by a number of organizations—one great resource is the Online Books Page through the University of Pennsylvania Libraries. More recent copyright records (1978 to present) can be searched online through the Copyright Office’s copyright catalog.

To search renewals for songs first published in the United States in 1924, we searched records spanning from 1951-1952. Below are some just some of the songs that were published in 1924 and renewed in their 28th year. After enjoying a term of copyright protection of 95 years, these works entered the public domain this year:

  • CHRISTMAS FANTASIA; for string orchestra & piano by Benoit Hollander. © 9Dec24, E599510. R87828, 13Dec51, Grace Adeline Hollander (W)
  • CHRISTMAS NIGHT, from Earl Carroll vanities; w & m Earl Carroll. 2d ed. © 10Oct24, E600428. R86228, 13Nov51, Jesse I. Schuyler (E)
  • COWBOY’S CHRISTMAS; for violin & piano by Jaromir Weinberger, rev. Otakar Sevcik. © 18Feb24, E592070. R89247, 19Jan52, Jaromir Weinberger (A)
  • SAVOY CHRISTMAS MEDLEY; for piano, arr. Debroy Somers. © 8Dec24; E599194-599195. R89904-89905; 28Jan52; Debroy Somers (A)
  • CHRISTMAS BELLS; anthem, w & m Cecil Forsyth; mixed voices. © 10Oct24, E602740. R85214, 24Oct51, P. David Forsyth, Walters B. Forsyth & Hugh Forsyth (NK)
  • THE NEW BORN KING; Christmas anthem, W. C. Krensch, M Charles L. Espoir, arr. Hartley Moore; mixed voices. © on arr., 22Sep24, E602736. R86918, 26Nov51, Oliver Ditson Co. (PWH)
  • SANTA CLAUS BLUES; w & m Charley Straight & Gus Kahn. © 1Nov24, E602777. R91975, 19Mar52, Grace LeBoy Kahn (W)

Santa Claus Blues record from Internet Archive

Arrangements and Recordings

As you can see above, it is possible to register and renew a copyright in a new arrangement, revision, or edition of a work. This copyright extends only to the new creative expression included in the arrangement, revision, or new edition. A new arrangement of a public domain song does not alter or extent the public domain status of the underlying work.

This blog post has discussed public domain musical compositions. What about recordings that are made of the songs? Are 1924 recordings also in the public domain? The term of protection for sound recordings is measured differently, meaning it is possible for a composition to be in the public domain while a recording of that composition that is made and released in the same year remains protected by copyright. Our blog post, “When does music enter the public domain in the United States?” provides more information on this topic.

Coming 2021

New works enter the public domain every year on January 1st. Check out the Public Domain Day Project to learn how Copyright Services and University Libraries are celebrating Public Domain Day 2021.


By Allison DeVito (ODEE Library Services Liaison, Office of Distance Education and eLearning) and Maria Scheid (Copyright Services Specialist at Copyright Services, The Ohio State University Libraries)

Copyright Services Rights Review Project

In Fall 2018, Copyright Services began a pilot rights review project of material, mainly images, available through the Digital Collectionshttps://library.osu.edu/dc (DC). The original goal was to research the copyright status of material in the DC and to select the appropriate rightsstatement to submit material to the Digital Public Library of America. We also had a goal of learning what content may be in the public domain. In beginning this project, we were inspired by the work of the University of Michigan’s Copyright Review Management System and the New York Public Library in determining copyright status of items in their collections.

We have had at least one student, and as many as three, working on this project since then. We’ve had a student in high school, undergraduates, law and graduate students working with us. Important skills we look for in a student are interest in copyright, research, and strong writing abilities. We provide training on copyright and how to research rights status to each student.

We ask the students to create detailed research reports on the artists and creators as listed in the DC. Here’s what the students look for and where they look:

Information for the rights review:

  • Who created the work and in what capacity (e.g. individual v. employee)?
  • What type of work are we evaluating?
  • Where was the work created/published?
  • When was the work created/published?
  • Why was the work created (to be used for a private/internal purpose or to be distributed to the public)?

Where they look:

The students access internal and external facing databases within the libraries. They may also visit the collection in person, search for registration and renewal records through the U.S. Copyright Office’s Copyright Catalog and through earlier digitized copies of the Catalog of Copyright Entries, and conduct outside online research on the creators in order to better understand the work they created and their professional lives.

The students also now use spreadsheets to track item level information for each collection.

These two documents (the narrative research document and the excel spreadsheet) will eventually be available for our curators and librarians to use.  

The process can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks, depending on the depth of research needed. We cannot say for certain how long a review will take since the type of content and creators can vary. A typical rights review may involve research into the creator, their employment history, the publication a work was distributed in, a search through copyright registration and renewal files, and determination of public domain status under U.S. copyright law. 

We are undertaking this rights review to provide more complete and accurate information, specifically about copyright for the collections that researchers and the general public can access online. We appreciate the help and support that we’ve received so far. Because copyright creators and rightsholders are important in determining copyright ownership and status, the rights reviews are, where possible, focused on a particular author or creator. To continue to move forward we have requested from our colleagues in the Libraries:

  • Departmental priorities for authors/collections
  • Any known information/resources about the creators, for example:
    • birth/death dates
    • creation dates
    • copyright dates/notice
    • work history

This project has been extremely worthwhile and hopefully others can see the value in the work we are doing. For our students, we are providing meaningful work. The students learn or enhance their attention to detail, research, and writing skills. Additionally, they are able to see a tangible outcome of their work in updates to the Digital Collections or progression for other digital projects within the Libraries.

We have expanded the reviews to include content that may or may not be added to the DC. These additional reviews have varying levels of research and evaluation of status, but it has increased our involvement in looking into rights status for content for our Libraries.

If you are interested in learning more about how to get started with your own rights review project, please get in touch with us.


Additional Materials:

Copyright Review Student Training Manual

Ballinger, Linda, Brandy Karl, and Anastasia Chiu. 2017. “Providing Quality Rights Metadata for Digital Collections Through RightsStatements.Org.” Pennsylvania Libraries: Research & Practice 5 (2): 144–58. https://doi.org/10.5195/palrap.2017.157.


Public Domain Day 2019 Recap

Public Domain Day 2019 graphic

2019 began with a celebration; after a 20-year pause, works published in the United States in 1923 entered the public domain. In recognition of this occasion, Ohio State University Libraries began the Public Domain Day project, collaborating with partners across the university to bring attention to works whose term of copyright protection has expired and to encourage creative uses of public domain materials in the University Libraries’ collections.

In January of this year, the Public Domain Day project website was launched to share more information about the project and the partnerships involved. With a focus on public domain music, the project website highlighted a selection of musical scores that we believe entered the public domain in the U.S. in 2019.

Additionally, project partners worked together to provide a number of events throughout the year. Here is a recap of all the events for Public Domain Day 2019:

  • January 25, 2019: Public Domain Day Information Session. Copyright Services offered an information session with an overview of the ways a work may enter the public domain in the United States and how public domain materials may be used and shared to promote innovative research and creative expression. We also shared our plans for celebration at OSU with the Public Domain Day Project.
  • March 1, 2019: Public Domain Chamber Music and Chat. Two compositions, published in 1923, were the focus for this concert event. Composer Paul Hindemith’s Cello Sonata op. 25 no. 3 and String Quartet op. 22 were performed by OSU School of Music Professor Mark Rudoff and the Janus Quartet. The event included opening remarks on the significant public domain developments in 2019 and additional background on the two pieces performed. With the assistance of Professor Beth Black, Undergraduate Engagement Librarian for University Libraries, this event was also offered as a session for the Second-Year Transformational Experience Program (STEP).
  • April 11, 2019: OSU Symphonic Band concert featuring ‘McKinley’s Own’ march by Karl King. The OSU Symphonic Band, conducted by OSU School of Music professor Scott A. Jones, performed a new edition of composer Karl L. King’s march McKinley’s Own. Video of the performance is available online, with audio of the performance available on the Public Domain Day project website. The new edition, edited by Professor Alan Green and arranged by Scott A. Jones and Craig Levesque, was dedicated to the public domain through the CC0 waiver. The score and parts (imposed) are made available on the Public Domain Day project website.
  • November 4, 2019: Using Public Domain Materials in Your Teaching and Research. This workshop, offered by Copyright Services, provided participants with information and resources for identifying, finding, and using public domain text, images, and other creative works.
  • November 6, 2019: Safety Last! Film screening with the Wexner Center for the Arts. Safety Last!, released in 1923, is a silent film starring Harold Lloyd. This screening at the Wexner Center for the Arts featured a 1989 soundtrack composed by Carl Davis, with orchestration based on the line-up of the Paul Whiteman Orchestra of the 1920s and inspired by popular music of that era. The Ohio State University Libraries’ Silent Film Sheet Music Collection offers a number of musical scores that are arranged for the typical film theatre orchestras of the early 20th century. Three 1923 scores from that collection have been digitized and made available on the Public Domain Day project website. Scores from 1923 include:
    • Clark, C. Frederick, Midnight (Novelty Fox Trot)
    • Coots, J. Fred and Dave Ringle (arr. Ted Eastwood), Home Town Blues
    • Savino, Domenico, Misterioso all Valse (Dramatic Suspense)

On January 1, 2020, we will once again celebrate Public Domain Day. In 2020, we will welcome into the public domain works published in the United States in 1924. To keep up to date on new events offered in 2020 and to read more about the project, visit the Public Domain Day project website at go.osu.edu/Public DomainDay .


By Maria Scheid, Copyright Services Coordinator at Copyright Services, The Ohio State University Libraries

Articles of Interest: January-June 2019

This post highlights articles published in the first half of 2019 with a focus on copyright, especially as it pertains to libraries, higher education, and scholarly communication. Links to the full-text articles are provided; [OSU full-text] links will connect authenticated users through The Ohio State University Libraries, while [OA full-text] links point to an open access version of the article that should be available to all users.

Did we miss an interesting article? Please share the citation in the comments!


Bow, C. & Hepworth, P.  (2019). Observing and Respecting Diverse Knowledge Traditions in a Digital Archive of Indigenous Language Materials. Journal of Copyright in Education and Librarianship, 3(1), 1-36. doi.org/10.17161/jcel.v3i1.7485 [OA full text]

Bunker, M. (2019) Decoding Academic Fair Use: Transformative Use and the Fair Use Doctrine in Scholarship. Journal of Copyright in Education and Librarianship, 3(1), 1-24. doi.org/10.17161/jcel.v3i1.6481 [OA full text]

Katz, R. (2019). A Pilot Study of Fan Fiction Writer’s Legal Information Behavior. Journal of Copyright in Education and Librarianship, 3(1), 1-29. doi.org/10.17161/jcel.v3i1.7697 [OA full text]

Harbeson, E. (2019). Thinking Globally About Copyright: ARSC at the World Intellectual Property Organization. ARSC Journal50(1), 100–107. [OSU full text]

Mallalieu, R. (2019). The elusive gold mine? The finer details of Creative Commons licences – and why they really matter. Insights: The UKSG Journal32, 1–7. doi.org/10.1629/uksg.448 [OSU full text] / [OA full text]

Rosenblatt, B. (2019). Blockchain: The Hype and the Reality. Publishers Weekly266(12), 26. [OSU full text]

Russell, C. (2019). Librarian of Congress appoints new Register of Copyrights. College & Research Libraries News80(5), 298. [OSU full text] / [OA full text]

Schumacher, S. (2019). Unlocking the Public Domain. Visual Resources Association Bulletin46(1), 1–11. [OSU full text] / [OA full text]

Weeramuni, L. (2019). How to Fight Fair Use Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt: The Experience of One Open Educational Resource. Journal of Copyright in Education and Librarianship, 3(1), 1-21. doi.org/10.17161/jcel.v3i1.9751 [OA full text]

Legislation & Policy Developments

Abbott, N. (2019). Marrakesh Treaty in Action. Library Journal144(4), 32–34. [OSU full text]


Coates, J. (2019). Copyright: More Copyright Reform for Libraries in 2019. InCite40(1/2), 22–23.  [OSU full text]

Lipinski, T. A., & Henderson, K. A. (2019). Legal Issues Surrounding the Collection, Use and Access to Grey Data in the University Setting: How Data Policies Reflect the Political Will of Organizations. Grey Journal (TGJ)15(2), 77–90. [OSU full text]

Reed, J. B., & Jahre, B. (2019). Reviewing the Current State of Library Support for Open Educational Resources. Collection Management44(2–4), 232–243. doi.org/10.1080/01462679.2019.1588181 [OSU full text]

Schmidt, L. (2019). Library VHS in Danger: Media Preservation in Academic Libraries. Journal of Copyright in Education and Librarianship, 3(1), 1-23. doi.org/10.17161/jcel.v3i1.7109 [OA full text]

Towery, S., Price, A. N. & Cowen, K. E. (2019).  Video Streaming Licenses: Using a Decision Tree and Workflow Chart. Journal of Copyright in Education and Librarianship, 3(1), 1-32.  doi.org/10.17161/jcel.v3i1.7483 [OA full text]

Publishing & Scholarly Communications

Gumb, L. (2019). An open impediment: Navigating copyright and OER publishing in the academic library. College & Research Libraries News80(4), 202–215. doi.org/10.5860/crln.80.4.202 [OSU full text] / [OA full text]

Heaton, R., Burns, D., & Thoms, B. (2019). Altruism or Self-Interest? Exploring the Motivations of Open Access Authors. College & Research Libraries80(4), 485–507. [OSU full text] / [OA full text]

Prosser, D. (2019). Researchers: stop signing away your copyright. Research Information, (101), 36. [OSU full text]

Willinsky, J. & Rusk, M. (2019). If Research Libraries and Funders Finance Open Access: Moving beyond Subscriptions and APCs. College & Research Libraries80(3), 340–355. [OSU full text] / [OA full text]


By Maria Scheid, Copyright Services Coordinator at Copyright Services, The Ohio State University Libraries.

Categories of Protected Works

The most current federal copyright statute includes eight categories of copyrightable works for both published and unpublished materials. But these eight categories weren’t added all at once, rather these broad classifications were added gradually over time as new technologies gave rise to new works.

When the first federal copyright statute was enacted in the United States, the Act only extended protection to “maps, charts, and books”, what we now generally categorize as literary works. The first addition came in 1802 when the 1790 Act was amended to include “engraving, and etching historical and other prints”, and also included the first instance of formalities that required creators to include a prescribed copyright notice on every work distributed to the public.

David L. Richardson and I.T. Norton registered the first musical work, “Maid of My Love” in 1831 after a revision of the general copyright law. Under current copyright law, Section 102(a)(2) provides protection in “musical works, including any accompanying words” that are fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Dramatic works received protection in 1856 which included for the first time, the right of public performance.

In 1865, just a few weeks before his death, Lincoln signed a new law that granted copyright protection to photographs and photographic negatives. Many speculate that the work of famous Civil War photographer Mathew Brady had a strong influence on the bill.

Twenty six years later, U.S. copyright law was amended again when President Benjamin Harrison signed the International Copyright Act of 1891 which was the first US copyright law authorizing the establishment of copyright relations with foreign countries. It was the first U.S. congressional act that offered US copyright protection to citizens of other countries. The first foreign work registered was the play Saints and Sinners by British author Henry Arthur Jones.

Public performance rights for musical compositions were formally established in 1897. In 1903, the Supreme Court extended protection to commercial art after Bleistein v. Donaldson Lithographing Co. sought protection for circus advertisements.

Before motion pictures were formally protected in 1912, copyright owners were required to register the works as a series of still photographs. “Edison Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze” from 1894 is the oldest surviving motion picture deposited as still photos. The first motion picture registered under this new category was “Black Sheep’s Wool” from the Republic Film Company.

The last two additions to the categories of copyrightable works came in in the late 20th century. In 1980 the law was amended to affirm the copyrightability of computer programs, which falls under the broad category of literary works. Ten years later, architecture works were added in 1990, though they unofficially been protected since the 1909 Copyright Act as “[d]rawings or plastic works of a scientific or technical nature”, which were commonly interpreted as blueprints. In 1976, “an architect’s plans and drawings” were included as pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, but the protection was limited by the concept of useful articles. When the U.S. joined the Berne Convention in 1989, architectural works were formally added a requirement of the agreement.

Are you ready to test what you’ve learned above? Check out the interactive tool to put the categories of copyrightable works in the order they were added to law.

Do you want to learn more about copyright history in the United States? Visit the interactive Copyright Timeline available through the US Copyright Office.


By Allison DeVito, Copyright Services Specialist at Copyright Services, The Ohio State University Libraries.

2018 DMCA Section 1201 Exemptions Announced

On October 26, 2018, the Librarian of Congress issued the final rule for the current exemptions to the section of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that prohibits circumvention of technological measures that control access to copyright protected works. We have written before about this area of the law and the rulemaking process involved (see our post on the previous exemptions from the last triennial proceeding in 2015).

The Prohibition against Circumvention under Section 1201

Section 1201(a) of U.S. Copyright Law prohibits the circumvention (e.g., descrambling, decryption, or removal) of a technological measure employed on or behalf of a copyright owner that effectively controls access to the copyright protected work. In order to ensure that non-infringing uses of copyrighted works are not unnecessarily inhibited by the prohibition on circumvention, however, a rulemaking session is held every three years to identify exemptions for particular classes of works.

Exemptions are determined by the Librarian of Congress, upon recommendation from the Register of Copyright, and remain in effect for three years.[1] There is no presumption that that a previously adopted exemption will be readopted, but new to the seventh triennial proceeding was the introduction of a streamlined process to renew exemptions adopted in 2015.

2018 DMCA Exemptions

On October 26, 2018, the final rules from the most recent triennial proceeding were announced.[2] The final rule includes exemptions covering 14 classes of works. We have created a chart to summarize all of the exemptions for this rulemaking proceeding. Exemptions include:

  1.  Short portions of motion pictures (including television shows and videos) for purposes of criticism or comment;
  2.  Motion pictures (including television shows and videos), for the purpose of adding captions and/or audio descriptions by disability services offices or similar units at educational institutions for students with disabilities;
  3.  Literary works, distributed electronically, protected by TPM interfering with screen readers or other assistive technologies;
  4.  Literary works consisting of compilations of data generated by patient’s implanted medical devices and personal monitoring systems;
  5.  Computer programs that that operate cellphones, tablets, mobile hotspots, and wearable devices to allow connection to a wireless network (“unlocking”);
  6.  Computer programs that operate smartphones and all-purpose mobile computing devices, to enable interoperability or removal of software applications (“jailbreaking”);
  7.  Computer programs that operate smart TVs for the purpose of enabling interoperability with computer programs on the smart television;
  8.  Computer programs that enable voice assistant devices to enable interoperability or removal of software applications;
  9.  Computer programs contained and controlling function of motorized land vehicles to allow diagnosis, repair, or modification of a vehicle function;
  10.  Computer programs that control smartphones, home appliances, or home systems to allow diagnosis, maintenance, or repair of the device or system;
  11.  Computer programs, for purposes of good-faith security research;
  12.  Video games in the form of computer programs, where outside server support has been discontinued, to allow individual play and preservation by an eligible library, archive, or museum;
  13.  Computer programs, except videos games, no longer reasonably available in commercial marketplace, for preservation by eligible libraries, archives, and museums; and
  14.  Computer programs operating 3D printers, to allow use of alternative feedstock.

Continue reading

Articles of Interest: July-December 2018

This post highlights articles published in the second half of 2018 with a focus on copyright, especially as it pertains to libraries, higher education, and scholarly communication. Links to the full-text articles are provided when available; [OSU full-text] links will connect authenticated users through The Ohio State University Libraries, while [OA full-text] links point to an open access version of the article that should be available to all users.

Did we miss an interesting article? Please share the citation in the comments!


Boettcher, J. C. & Dames, K. M. (2018). Government Data as Intellectual Property: Is Public Domain the same as Open Access? Online Searcher42(4), 42–48. [OSU full text]

Charlton, J. (2018). New European Copyright Directive Courts Controversy. Information Today35(9), 15. [OSU full text]

Christou, C. (2018). Where to Learn About Copyright. Information Today35(7), 1–27. [OSU full text] / [OA full text]

Courtney, K. K. (2018). The state copyright conundrum: What’s your state government’s rule on copyright? College & Research Libraries News79(10), 571–574. [OSU full text] / [OA full text]

Ensign, D. (2018). Copyright Corner: Blockchain and Copyright. Kentucky Libraries82(3), 4–5. [OSU full text]

Pike, G. H. (2018). Who Owns the Law? Information Today, 35(6), 18. [OSU full text]

Teixeira da Silva, J. A. (2018). The Issue of Comment Ownership and Copyright at PubPeer. Journal of Educational Media & Library Sciences55(2), 1–15. [OSU full text] / [OA full text]

Wingo, R. S., Logsdon, A., & Schommer, C. (2018). Going viral: Copyright lessons from Max the Cat. College & Research Libraries News, 79(7/8), 350–353. [OSU full text] / [OA full text]


Capell, L. and Williams, E., 2018. Implementing RightsStatements.org at the University of Miami Libraries. Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication, 6(1), p.eP2254. doi.org/10.7710/2162-3309.2254 [OA full text]

Ensign, D. (2018). Copyright Corner: Public Lending Rights. Kentucky Libraries82(4), 2–3. [OSU full text]

Hansen, D. R., & Courtney, K. K. (2018, September 24). A White Paper on Controlled Digital Lending of Library Books. doi.org/10.31228/osf.io/7fdyr [OA full text]

Radniecki, T. (2018). Intellectual Property in the Makerspace. Journal of Library Administration58(6), 545–560. doi.org/10.1080/01930826.2018.1491178 [OSU full text] / [OA full text]

Publishing & Scholarly Communication

Bolick, J. (2018). Leveraging Elsevier’s Creative Commons License Requirement to Undermine Embargoes. Journal of Copyright in Education and Librarianship, 2(2), 1-19. doi.org/10.17161/jcel.v2i2.7415 [OA full text]

Herr, M., 2018. The Rights Provisions of a Book Publishing Contract. Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication, 6(1), p.eP2273. doi.org/10.7710/2162-3309.2273 [OA full text]

Kohn, A. and Lange, J., 2018. Confused about copyright? Assessing Researchers’ Comprehension of Copyright Transfer Agreements. Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication, 6(1), p.eP2253. doi.org/10.7710/2162-3309.2253 [OA full text]

Lewis, C. (2018). The Open Access Citation Advantage: Does It Exist and What Does It Mean for Libraries? Information Technology & Libraries, 37(3), 50–65. doi.org/10.6017/ital.v37i3.10604 [OSU full text] / [OA full text]

Xu, H. (2018). Obstacles for Faculty using Open Educational Resources and Solutions. Texas Library Journal, 94(3), 85–87. [OSU full text]


By Maria Scheid, Copyright Services Coordinator at Copyright Services, The Ohio State University Libraries.

The Wait is Over! Public Domain Day 2019

What do F. Scott Fitzgerald, Agatha Christie, Buster Keaton, and Jelly Roll Morton all have in common? They all have works that are entering the public domain in the U.S. today on Public Domain Day!

Today is Public Domain Day and this year’s celebration is a special one for those of us in the United States. After a 20-year pause, works published in the United States will once again be entering the public domain on a rolling basis. This year, we welcome works first registered or published in the United States in 1923.

As public domain works, these books, films, compositions, and works of art can be used without copyright restrictions. This means, for example, that instructors can make copies of literary works for their students, ensembles can create new arrangements and publicly perform musical works, and students can adapt and remix works freely into their own projects and assignments. Works in the public domain can be used to encourage and support learning, scholarship, and creative endeavors.

Why the 20-year wait?

Copyright protects many different types of creative works, including books, film, music, and art. And while the U.S. Constitution requires copyright be granted only for “limited Times,” the term of copyright protection has increased over the years. In 1998, Congress passed the Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA), which extended the term of protection for published works by an additional 20 years. For works published before 1978, this meant a term of protection of 95 years from publication date. We have now reached the point where eligible works are reaching the 95-year mark.

In addition to these published works, we will see certain unpublished works enter the public domain in the U.S. on this day; specifically, unpublished works from authors who died during 1948 and unpublished works created in 1898 for anonymous and pseudonymous authors and works made for hire, and unpublished works when the date of the author’s death is unknown.[1]

Celebrating the Public Domain at OSU

Copyright Services has collaborated with partners across OSU to share public domain works in the University Libraries collections, focusing on musical compositions published or registered in the U.S. in 1923. Tomorrow, January 2, you can visit the Public Domain Day Project website (go.osu.edu/PublicDomainDay) to learn more about the partners involved in this project, the events planned for 2019, our plans for releasing new recordings of select musical works (to be dedicated to the public domain via Creative Commons CC0), and to access music scores and audio. New works will be added throughout 2019.


By Maria Scheid, Copyright Services Coordinator at Copyright Services, The Ohio State University Libraries

[1] Depending on the work you are dealing with, there may be some additional considerations in determining the copyright status of a work. Two great resources for thinking through copyright term and public domain are the American Library Association’s Public Domain Slider and Peter Hirtle’s Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States chart.


Public Domain Christmas Songs

It’s that time of year when Christmas lights are strung and ugly sweaters are worn. When singing along with your favorite carols have you ever thought of the copyright status behind these famous songs?

Here are nine well known Christmas songs that are in the public domain.

Away in a Manger

Once rumored to have been authored by theologian Martin Luther, this carol made an early appearance in 1882. Originally titled “Luther’s Cradle Song” an anonymous author attributed the song as one Luther wrote for his children. This was dispelled for a number of reasons, and a source states the song may have instead been associated with a celebration for the 400th anniversary of Luther’s birth in 1883. There are two musical settings commonly assigned with the lyrics, one by William J. Kirkpatrick (1895) and the other by James Ramsey Murray (1887). In 1996 it was ranked as the second most popular carol in Britain. The text of the song is based on verses from Luke 2:4-7. Source: Away in a Manger

Deck the Halls

Originally titled Deck the Hall, this is a Welsh melody that dates back to the 16th century. The famous chorus ‘fa la la la la’ may date to the medieval period, while the modern English lyrics were written by Scottish musician Thomas Oliphant in 1862. The melody comes from a traditional Welsh carol “Nos Galan”, a traditional New Year’s Eve ballad. The plural of ‘hall’ was first published in 1892. Source: Deck the Halls Song History

Jingle Bells

Perhaps one of the most well-known Christmas songs, Jingle Bells was originally written for the Thanksgiving season by James Lord Pierpont in 1857. It was copyrighted as One Horse Open Sleigh, but the name was revised when it was published in 1859 as “Jingle Bells, or the One Horse Open Sleigh”. The title comes from the common practice of placing bells on a horse’s harness to avoid collisions because a horse drawn sleigh makes little noise. Jingle Bells was the first song broadcast from outer space when two astronauts on Gemini 6 performed the song aboard the spacecraft in 1965 after reporting a sleigh like object in the polar orbit. Source: 8 Things You May Not Know About “Jingle Bells”

Jingle Bells sheet music

Pierpont, J, and J Pierpont. The One Horse Open Sleigh. Oliver Ditson, Boston, monographic, 1857. Notated Music. https://www.loc.gov/item/sm1857.620520/

Silent Night

Translated from the German “Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht”, the song was composed by Franz Xaver Gruber, a schoolmaster, with lyrics by Father Joseph Mohr, in Oberndorf bei Salzburg, Austria in 1818. Bing Crosby’s version is the third bestselling single of all time, and the song was declared an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in 2011. Silent Night, as we know it today was translated to English in 1859 by John Freeman Young, an Episcopal priest. Source: Silent Night

Up on the House Top

Written by Benjamin Hanby in 1864, Up on the House Top was considered the first Christmas song to focus primarily on Santa Claus. Sources credit Hanby’s inspiration for the song as Clement C. Moore’s 1822 poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas”, commonly known as “The Night Before Christmas”. The song was originally titled Santa Claus and meant to be performed as a sing along. According to The Christmas Carol Reader it is the second oldest secular Christmas song, only surpassed by Jingle Bells. Source: Up on the Housetop


Written for the 1903 operetta Babes in Toyland, the whimsical song features a cast of Mother Goose characters in a magical toy filled land. The lyrics were written by Glenn MacDonough with music by Victor Herbert. The lyrics of the song have no direct ties to Christmas or the holiday season, but the spirit of the song, the happiness toys bring to children, has been associated with Santa Claus. The operetta has been adapted into 4 films of the same title, beginning in 1934 to the most recent animated version in 1997. Source: Babes in Toyland

The Twelve Days of Christmas

One of the most well-known cumulative songs, the carol describes an increasingly grand set of gifts for the twelve days of Christmas, beginning Christmas Day. The song was first published in 1780 without any music, and has a Roud Folk Song Index of 68. The standard tune it is now associated with was derived from a 1909 arrangement by Frederic Austin. In one 19th century variant, the gifts come from “my mother” rather than “my true love”.  PNC Financial annually calculates the total cost of all the gifts presented in the song, and the estimate for 2018 total comes to $39,0094.93. Source: The Twelve Days of Christmas Explained

We Wish You a Merry Christmas

The famous greeting which gives name to the song, “a merry Christmas and a happy New Year” is recorded from 18th century England. The song is a nod to the dynamic between the rich and poor, and describes townspeople parading the steps of the rich calling for figgy pudding and refusing to leave until it was delivered. The modern popularity of the song comes from a Bristol based composer Arthur Warrell, who arranged the song for the University of Bristol Madrigal singers in 1935. The very early history of the carol is unknown; it is notoriously missing from popular song books of the 18th and 19th centuries. Source: We Wish You a Merry Christmas

O Christmas Tree

Also known as O Tannenbaum, O Christmas Tree is a German Christmas song; a tannenbaum is the German word for a fir tree. The modern lyrics were written in 1824, and instead of referring to Christmas, reference the evergreen as a symbol of constancy and faithfulness. The custom of Christmas trees developed throughout the 19th century, and the song became associated with the holiday. The song was famously used in the 1965 television special A Charlie Brown Christmas. Source: O Christmas Tree: Lyrics and Chords


Copyrighted Christmas Songs

Unfortunately the songs listed below are still under copyright protection so we’ll have to wait a little while before they enter the public domain.

Winter Wonderland
Written: 1934
Public Domain: 2030

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
Written: 1939
Public Domain: 2035

Frosty the Snowman
Written: 1950
Public Domain: 2046

Jingle Bell Rock
Written: 1957
Public Domain: 2053

Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree
Written: 1958
Public Domain: 2054

Little Saint Nick
Written: 1963
Public Domain: 2059

Holly Jolly Christmas
Written: 1964
Public Domain: 2060


By Allison DeVito, Copyright Services Specialist at Copyright Services, The Ohio State University Libraries




« Older posts