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:

Literature:

  • 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

Film:

  • 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

Music:

  • “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.