New Works to Enter the Public Domain in 2022

A roundup of some of the notable works that entered the Public Domain this year.

Written by Matthew Masino

The Sun Also Rises first edition cover
Ernest Hemingway’s novel “The Sun Also Rises” is one of many to enter the Public Domain in 2022.

Each year on January 1, a collection of copyrighted work loses their protected status and enters into the Public Domain. This is marked with the celebration of Public Domain Day. In 2021, Public Domain Day made news when F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby entered into the public domain after 95 years of exclusivity.

According to the Center for the Study of the Public Domain, “The goal of copyright is to promote creativity, and the public domain plays a central role in doing so. Copyright law gives authors important rights that encourage creativity and distribution. But it also ensures that those rights last for a ‘limited time,’ so that when they expire, works can go into the public domain, where future authors can legally build upon their inspirations… Anyone can use these works as raw material for their own creations, without fear of a lawsuit. What kinds of things will people do with public domain works?”

Now that it is 2022, many works are entering the public domain for the first time. A lot of them are obscure, but we’ve highlighted some of the big names below. We hope you’re inspired by their newly legal status to go out and create something of your own! Here are just a few selections:

Books

  • Dynamite: The Story of Class Violence in America by Louis Adamic (1931)
  • The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (1926)
  • It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis (1935) 
  • The Moral Obligation to be Intelligent by John Erskine (1915)
  • Show Boat by Edna Ferber (1926)
  • The Weary Blues by Langston Hughes (1926)

Thump, thump, thump, went his foot on the floor.
He played a few chords then he sang some more—
“I got the Weary Blues
And I can’t be satisfied.
Got the Weary Blues
And can’t be satisfied—
I ain’t happy no mo’
And I wish that I had died.”

From Langston Hughes’ “The Weary Blues”
  • Magnificent Obsession by Lloyd C. Douglas (1929)
  • Mutiny on the Bounty by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall (1932)
  • Main Street by Sinclair Lewis (1920)
  • My Mortal Enemy by Willa Cather (1926)
  • Ralph 124C 41+ by Hugo Gernsback (1911)
  • The Benson Murder Case by S.S. Van Dine (1926)
  • Soldiers’ Pay by William Faulkner (1926)
  • Enough Rope by Dorothy Parker (1926)
  • Notes on Democracy by H.L. Mencken (1926)

Films

  • Nanook of the North (1922) written and directed by Robert J. Flaherty
  • Don Juan (1926) written by Walter Anthony, Maude Fulton, and Victor Vance, screenplay by Bess Meredyth
  • Battling Butler (1926) written by Al Boasberg, Lex Neal, Charles Smith, and Paul Gerard Smith; directed by Buster Keaton
  • The Winning of Barbara Worth (1926) written by Frances Marion, based on the novel by Harold Bell Wright
  • For Heaven’s Sake (1926) directed by Sam Taylor
  • The Son of the Sheik (1926) written by Frances Marion, Fred de Gresac, and George Marion Jr.

Sound Recordings

  • “That Thing Called Love” by Mamie Smith and Her Jazz Hounds
  • “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” by Roy Turk and Lou Handman
  • “Swanee” by Al Jolson
  • “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” by Irving Berlin
  • “When the Red, Red Robin (Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along)” by Harry M. Woods
  • “Ke Kali Nei Aua” by Charles E. King (later renamed “Hawaiian Wedding Song”)
  • “Someone to Watch Over Me” by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin
  • “As Time Goes By” by Herman Hupfeld

International Works

Winnie the Pooh and Piglet
Illustration from Winnie-the-Pooh (1926). Pooh Bear and his friends, as they appear in the original illustrations, entered the public domain in 2022. The Disney versions still remained protected by copyright.

While our goal here at the American Writers Museum is celebrated the writing of American authors, we also want to highlight some international works entering the public domain here in the United States.

  • Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne, decorations by E. H. Shephard (1926)
  • The Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T. E. Lawrence (1926)
  • Bambi, A Life in the Woods by Felix Salten (1923)
  • The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie (1926)
  • Faust (1926 film) written by Hans Kyser and directed by F. W. Murnau
  • Turandot (1926 opera) with a libretto by Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni; based on the play of the same name by Carol Gozzi
  • The Castle, an unfinished novel, by Franz Kafka (1926)

Matthew Masino is a content creator, writer, and theatre director based in Chicago, Illinois. He graduated with a B.F.A. in Theatre Directing from Columbia College Chicago in 2019. Matthew began writing for the AWM blog in April 2020, just after the museum’s closure and has since written more than two dozen articles for the blog. He is also responsible for creating the AWM Destinations blog series. As a theatre artist, Matthew has worked with the International Voices Project, the Chicago Fringe Festival, and BYOT Productions. You can learn more by visiting his website www.matthewmasino.com.

6 thoughts on “New Works to Enter the Public Domain in 2022

    • American Writers Museum says:

      Hi Richard,
      Copyright on songs is a little tricky. However, from what I can tell very little of Cole Porter’s music has entered the public domain. Knowing this, it is extremely doubtful that “Anything Goes” is in public domain.
      Thanks for taking the time to find out!

      -Ari Bachechi, Assistant Director, Operations and Exhibits

  1. Kim says:

    How do you find out when a TV series becomes public domain? What can you use of a TV series without infringing the copyright? (I.E. I have a character in one of my stories that is obsessed with a particular TV series.)

    • American Writers Museum says:

      Hi Kim,

      Copyright laws can be really complicated and confusing. You can check out this link for more information about how and when different media enters the public domain: https://web.law.duke.edu/cspd/
      They may also be able to help you more with your specific questions since that is their specialty.
      Best of luck!
      -Ari Bachechi, Assistant Director, Operations & Exhibits

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