Last week, we rang in the new year. But January 1 was also Public Domain Day 2020, when art and other copyrighted materials from 1924 entered the public domain. Works that are in the public domain may be used freely, without obtaining permission from or compensating a copyright owner. Below are highlights of some of the visual art that entered the public domain this month.
The list, searchable on Wikipedia by movies, books, film, and art from 1924, also includes the following:
Movies and Short Films:
- Buster Keaton’s Sherlock Jr. and The Navigator
- Girl Shy and Hot Water starring Harold Lloyd
- Shorts by Keaton, Laurel and Hardy, and “Our Gang” (later “Little Rascals”)
- Fatty Arbuckle’s Stupid, But Brave
- D. W. Griffith’s America and Isn’t Life Wonderful
- Clark Gable’s first appearances, White Man (now lost) and Forbidden Paradise
- The first film adaptations of Peter Pan and The Age of Innocence
- The first films produced by MGM, including He Who Gets Slapped and Erich von Stroheim’s Greed
- A silent version of Dante’s Inferno that borrows the “shown the error of his ways” plot from A Christmas Carol.
- The Thief of Bagdad starring Douglas Fairbanks (already in public domain)
- Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain
- E.M. Forster, A Passage to India
- Ford Madox Ford, Some Do Not… (the first volume of his “Parade’s End” tetralogy)
- Eugene O’Neill, Desire Under the Elms
- Edith Wharton, Old New York (four novellas)
- Yevgeny Zamyatin, We (the English translation by Gregory Zilboorg)
- A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young
- Hugh Lofting, Doctor Dolittle’s Circus
- Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan and the Ant Men
- Agatha Christie, The Man in the Brown Suit
- Lord Dunsany (Edward Plunkett), The King of Elfland’s Daughter
- Rhapsody in Blue, George Gershwin
- Fascinating Rhythm and Oh, Lady Be Good, music George Gershwin, lyrics Ira Gershwin
- Lazy, Irving Berlin
- Jealous Hearted Blues, Cora “Lovie” Austin (composer, pianist, bandleader) (recorded by Ma Rainey)
- Santa Claus Blues, Charley Straight and Gus Kahn (recorded by Louis Armstrong)
- Nobody’s Sweetheart, music Billy Meyers and Elmer Schoebel, lyrics Gus Kahn and Ernie Erdman
So, feel free to download, copy, and use your imagination with this material. You can transform these works without permission from anyone except yourself! You can remix Little Rascals into Little Zombie Rascals, or Day of the Dead into Day of the Undead. Have fun! Then copyright that for the next 95 years.
You can read our round up of 2018’s Public Domain Day here.