On January 1, 2022, copyright expired for all works published in the United States in 1926. These works entered the public domain. Anyone is now free to share, use, and build on them in the US without permission or payment. Public Domain Day celebrates this trove of books, serials, music, and art that become public property on January 1.
Each January 1st, a new year’s worth of publications will enter the public domain. In 2023, copyright will expire for works published in 1927, and so on. Non-US works may enter the public domain later; this varies by creation date and country of origin.
Some 1926 works were already in the public domain before January 1. This is because the copyright was not registered or renewed in time, under US laws of the era. Works published after January 1, 1964 had their copyright automatically renewed by statute. However, to protect works published between 1923 and 1964, creators had to include a copyright statement at the time of publication and renew copyright after 28 years.
Unfortunately, searching for the status of these works can be tricky. While copyright records from 1978 to today can be searched online, registrations and renewals for all works prior to 1978 can only be searched onsite in the US Copyright Office’s copyright card catalog. To help the public navigate the status of books published between 1923 and 1963, Stanford University Libraries developed a database of copyright renewals – but note that this only includes renewals for books, and not other copyrighted material like art, sound recordings, film, and so on.
Some Notable Books Entering the Public Domain
In 1926, Ernest Hemingway published The Sun Also Rises, fictional detective Hercule Poirot solved one of his trickiest mysteries in Agatha Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, and Winnie-the-Pooh entered the imagination of millions of children.
- A. A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
- Agatha Christie, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
- Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises
- William Faulkner, Soldiers’ Pay
- T. E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom
- Willa Cather, My Mortal Enemy
- Franz Kafka, The Castle
- Yasunari Kawabata, The Dancing Girl of Izu
- Carl Sandburg, The Prairie Years
Other Works Entering the Public Domain
- All pre-1923 sound recordings
- Many black-and-white films (including Faust, pictured, directed by F. W. Murnau)
- Poems by Vita Sackville-West, Dorothy Parker, Langston Hughes, and others
- Lyrics and music to “The Birth of the Blues,” “Are You Lonesome To-night?” and other songs by George and Ira Gershwin and other Tin Pan Alley composers
Connecticut-Themed Works Entering the Public Domain
HathiTrust has created a digital collection with 54,863 resources—books, journal issues, research reports, and other items—that entered the public domain on New Year’s Day. Here are Connecticut-themed 1926 works that HathiTrust now makes free for all.
- A Compendium of the Indian Wars in New England
- The Connecticut Wits
- The Country Newspaper: A Study of Socialization and Newspaper Content
- A History of Connecticut Agriculture
- Probate Law and Practice of Connecticut
These resources provide unique historical perspectives on Connecticut’s print media, legal practices, armed conflicts, agricultural history, and literary culture.
Some Works from UConn Archives & Special Collections Entering the Public Domain
Search the UConn library catalog for works from 1926 or earlier. Below are just a few of the books in our special collections that were published in 1926.
- Douglas McMurtie, Alphabets: A Manual of Letter Design
- Johnny Gruelle, The Paper Dragon: A Raggedy Ann Adventure
- D.H. Lawrence, Glad Ghosts and The Plumed Serpent
- George Moore, Peronnik the Fool
- A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
- Kate Richard O’Hare, Kuzbasing in Dixie
- Guillermo M. Bañados, Obras
- Elsie Spicer Eells, The Brazilian Fairy Book
- A.E. Coppard, The Field of Mustard
- Hugh Lofting, Doctor Doolittle’s Caravan
- Wallace Wadsworth, Paul Bunyan and His Great Blue Ox
- Wilson Dakin, Geography of Connecticut
- Stefan Zweig, The Invisible Collection
Learn More about the Public Domain
James Boyle, The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind (Yale University Press, 2008). Download book for free from the author’s website.