This year, copyrighted works published in 1924 have entered the public domain after 95 years of copyright protection. In 2019, published works entered the public domain for the first time in decades after a 20 year lapse.
Several amendments to federal copyright law throughout the 20th century extended the copyright terms of these works. Under the 1909 Copyright Act, they received an initial copyright term of 28 years with a 28 year renewal term. As a result of the Copyright Act of 1976, an additional 19 years were added to the renewal term. Then the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998, also known as the Sonny Bono Act, extended the copyright term for certain works published before January 1, 1978 (works that were still protected by copyright as of October 27, 1998) by another 20 years, resulting in the total copyright term of 95 years. (Copyright Law in a Nutshell, pg. 127)
Notable released works include Buster Keaton’s Sherlock Jr. and E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India. To browse through a large collection of newly released works, check out the HathiTrust Digital Library’s 1924 Public Domain Collection.
If you are interested in learning more about copyright law, Jenkins has great resources to help. Check out Copyright Law in a Nutshell available in both print or ebook through LexisNexis Digital Library. For a thorough treatise, try Nimmer on Copyright or Patry on Copyright. Title 17 of the U.S. Code can also be found online from copyright.gov. It includes all amendments passed by Congress through June 30, 2016. The Orrin G. Hatch–Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act and the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act can be found on the page as supplements.
Have questions about additional resources? Ask us!