What Books, Movies, Songs & Paintings Could Have Entered the Public Domain on January 1, 2014?


Every year, Duke Uni­ver­si­ty’s Cen­ter for the Study of the Pub­lic Domain high­lights major works that would have entered the pub­lic domain had the copy­right law that pre­vailed until 1978 still remained in effect today. That law (estab­lished in 1909) allowed works to remain under copy­right for a max­i­mum of 56 years — which means that 2014 would have wel­comed into the pub­lic domain works first pub­lished in 1957. Some high­lights (from the longer list) include:


  • Jack Ker­ouac, On the Road
  • Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
  • Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christ­mas and The Cat in the Hat
  • Studs Terkel, Giants of Jazz
  • Ian Flem­ing, From Rus­sia, with Love


  • 12 Angry Men (Hen­ry Fon­da, Lee J. Cobb, Jack Klug­man, Ed Beg­ley, and more)
  • A Farewell to Arms (Rock Hud­son and Jen­nifer Jones)
  • Jail­house Rock (Elvis Pres­ley)
  • The Sev­enth Seal (writ­ten and direct­ed by Ing­mar Bergman and star­ring Max von Sydow and Bengt Ekerot)
  • Fun­ny Face (Audrey Hep­burn and Fred Astaire)
  • Gun­fight at the O.K. Cor­ral (Burt Lan­cast­er and Kirk Dou­glas)


  • “That’ll Be the Day” and “Peg­gy Sue” (Bud­dy Hol­ly, Jer­ry Alli­son, and Nor­man Pet­ty)
  • “Great Balls of Fire” (Otis Black­well and Jack Ham­mer)
  • “Wake Up, Lit­tle Susie” (Felice and Boudleaux Bryant)
  • Elvis Presley’s hits: “All Shook Up” (Otis Black­well and Elvis Pres­ley) and “Jail­house Rock” (Jer­ry Leiber and Mike Stoller)
  • The musi­cal “West Side Sto­ry” (music by Leonard Bern­stein, lyrics by Stephen Sond­heim, and book by Arthur Lau­rents)


  • Dali’s “Celes­tial Ride” and “Music: the Red Orches­tra”
  • Edward Hopper’s “West­ern Motel”
  • Picasso’s “Las Meni­nas” set of paint­ings

Under the cur­rent copy­right regime, you’ll have to wait anoth­er 39 years — until 2053 — before these works hit the com­mons.

You can find a longer list of 1957 works still under copy­right on Duke’s web­site.

Note: If you’re won­der­ing how many works of art entered the pub­lic domain in 2014, the answer is sim­ple: 0. As the Duke site notes, “Not a sin­gle pub­lished work” is enter­ing the pub­lic domain in 2014. “In fact, in the Unit­ed States, no pub­li­ca­tion will enter the pub­lic domain until 2019.”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Sher­lock Holmes Is Now in the Pub­lic Domain, Declares US Judge

The British Library Puts 1,000,000 Images into the Pub­lic Domain, Mak­ing Them Free to Reuse & Remix

Free Philip K. Dick: Down­load 13 Great Sci­ence Fic­tion Sto­ries

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Comments (3)
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  • Chad says:

    So how about a list of items that actu­al­ly did enter the pub­lic domain. Y’know, for sure. ??

  • Dan Colman says:

    There is a sim­ple answer to that. If you go to the Duke site ref­er­enced in the post, you will see this:

    “Not a sin­gle pub­lished work” is enter­ing the pub­lic domain in 2014. “Once again, we will have noth­ing to cel­e­brate this Jan­u­ary 1st.…In fact, in the Unit­ed States, no pub­li­ca­tion will enter the pub­lic domain until 2019.”

    Per­haps should have made that clear in the post.


  • domain investor says:


    First i want to thank the author for his awe­some infor­ma­tion.
    You can also get valu­able info from http://dntoolz.com


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