Poetry News

The Public Domain Class of 2012 Includes Joyce, Woolf, Tsvetaeva, and More

By Harriet Staff

Some of you have waited 70 years for this! Yes, one more shiny bauble for your New Year is the appearance of the Public Domain Class of 2012, which means that writers James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Marina Tsvetaeva, Henri Bergson, and Sherwood Anderson, along with French painter Robert Delaunay and ragtime musician Jelly Roll Morton (among others), have all gone public. What does it mean exactly? Well:

Such works can also become a building block for new creations: people can transform a poem into song lyrics, or make a movie based on a public domain novel (check your local movie theaters to see how often that happens!). Literary works can be published on personal website and/or printed for friends or school distribution. Of course, you can also decide, for instance, to professionally print a beautiful hardcover leather-bound edition of a public domain book and sell it for a profit, while the book content will remain available for anyone to use freely. And the same goes for images, art works and other kinds of creative works entering the public domain under the same term expiration rule.

But as The Observer notes, "It doesn’t mean you can record and sell your own audiobook of To the Lighthouse though — you have to wait 95 years for work copyrighted in the United States after 1923." However, they do suggest that you pass away the desolate hours of January by "filming your own adaptation of Ulysses and uploading it to the Internet."

Originally Published: January 3rd, 2012