‘Great Gatsby,’ Ma Rainey, Irving Berlin enter public domain

WTOP's Jason Fraley highlights public domain works (Part 1)

Let your creative juices flow! You can now adapt certain classic works without worrying about getting sued.

That’s because on Jan. 1, 2021, copyrighted works from 1925 officially entered the U.S. public domain, meaning theaters can screen the films, musicians can sample the music and authors can adapt the books.

Works from 1925 were originally supposed to enter the public domain after 75 years in 2001, but Congress paused the law and extended the copyright term to 95 years, hence the 2021 release.

Find the full list of newly public domain works on the Duke University website.

See highlights below.

F. Scott Fitzgerald – “The Great Gatsby”

Virginia Woolf – “Mrs. Dalloway”

Ernest Hemingway – “In Our Time”

Franz Kafka – “The Trial”

Theodore Dreiser – “An American Tragedy”

Alain Locke – “The New Negro”

Agatha Christie – “The Secret of Chimneys”

Irving Berlin – “Always”

Ma Rainey – “Army Camp Harmony Blues”

George & Ira Gershwin – “Looking for a Boy”

W.C. Handy – “Friendless Blues”

Duke Ellington – “Jig Walk”

Fats Waller – “Ball and Chain Blues”

Henry King – “Stella Dallas”

Erich von Stroheim’s “The Merry Widow”

Harold Lloyd – “The Freshman”

Buster Keaton – “Go West”

Why isn’t Charlie Chaplin’s “The Gold Rush” (1925) listed in this year’s batch? Turns out, the film’s copyright wasn’t renewed after the initial 28-year term, so it has already been in the public domain for decades.

WTOP's Jason Fraley highlights public domain works (Part 2)
Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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