Copyright, Events

Public Domain Day: 2022

What is the “Public Domain”?

The public domain is essentially a collection of works that no longer have copyright protection based on copyright expiration or the failure to comply with statutory formalities. Figuring out exactly what is in the public domain can get complicated when you start looking at international publications, as there is no “one size fits all” approach to copyright law around the world- there isn’t even one across format types! However, every year on January 1st the United States welcomes even more creative works into the public domain- allowing for increased access and use. 

Starting today, January 1st, 2022, works published in the United States before 1927 are now in the public domain- including many classics.

However, it is important to note that what is in the public domain is only what was published before that date. Any subsequent interactions- adaptations or additional works- are not in the public domain unless they, too, were published before 1927. 

2022 is a particularly exciting year for the public domain because of the Music Modernization Act, passed in 2018. This allows for all sound recordings published before 1923 to be added to the public domain. Find out more about why sound recordings have a different path than other types of works in this article.

2022 Public Domain Titles

Winnie the pooh cover from 1926
Image Credit: Wikipedia

Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne


The original text of the 1926 Winnie the Pooh is now in the public domain! While you might not be able to make copies of more recent movies to distribute, you can do so with the original book!

the weary blues by langston hughes cover
Image Credit: Wikipedia

The Weary Blues by Langston Hughes 


This collection of poems was his debut poetry collection. Hughes also won the Witter Bynner Undergraduate Poetry Prize the same year.

the sun also rises cover
Image Credit: Wikipedia

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

A classic, and a novel on my reading lists when I was younger, is now more affordable.

the murder of roger ackroyd cover
Image Credit: Wikipedia

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

If you need a good murder mystery, this novel by Christie is now in the public domain.

sweat by zora neale hurston cover
Image Credit: Women Writers

Sweat by Zora Neale Hurston

This short story was published by Hurston in 1926.

Image Credit: Wikipedia

Soldiers’ Pay by William Faulkner

This novel was Faulkner’s first and is the perfect read for those interested in World War I.

Keep an eye out on digital libraries and repositories as they add these and other titles! And learn more about the sound recordings now available during this Public Domain Day Celebration.

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