Copyrights Are Expiring Again in the USA After a 20 Year Freeze
Yesterday all copyrighted works published in 1923 fell into the public domain, with only a few exceptions.
Internet grassroot organizations and companies like Google and Reddit now oppose copyright extension. In 2012, these groups stopped the Internet filtering bill called the Stop Online Piracy Act. Today’s opponents of copyright extensions are better funded and more organized than those who tried to sop the 1998 copyright twenty-year extension.
The Gershwin family trust, grandchildren of Oscar Hammerstein, Disney and others had supported copyright extension.
On January 1, 2024, Steamboat Willie and the original Mickey Mouse will be in the public domain. The copyrights to Superman, Batman, Disney’s Snow White, and early Looney Tunes characters will all fall into the public domain between 2031 and 2035.
Later versions of Mickey Mouse will still be protected.
Now Public Domain
Cecil B. DeMille’s silent version of The Ten Commandments
Harold Lloyd’s Safety Last!, including that scene where he dangles off a clock tower, and his Why Worry?
Silent films: including Buster Keaton’s Our Hospitality and Charlie Chaplin’s The Pilgrim
Short films by Chaplin, Keaton, Laurel and Hardy, and Our Gang (later Little Rascals)
Cartoons including Felix the Cat (the character first appeared in a 1919 cartoon)
Marlene Dietrich’s film debut, a bit part in the German silent comedy The Little Napoleon; also the debuts of Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Fay Wray
Bambi by Felix Salten, illustrated by Barbara Cooney. It was the source of Disney’s animated film.