In 2024, a treasure trove of artistic masterpieces and beloved characters step into the public domain. While Mickey Mouse, from the 1928 animated short Steamboat Willie, garners the most attention, numerous other iconic creations join him, allowing for a resurgence of creativity and reinterpretation.
Tigger, Peter Pan and Charlie Chaplin in Public Domain
Beyond Mickey, many other works are affected, marking a transformation in the public domain landscape. Among them is Tigger from A. A. Milne’s House at Pooh Corner, following the expiration of Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh copyright in 2022. This well-known character is now free of copyright constraints, allowing public exploration and transformation.
J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan finally takes flight as his 1904 play, published for copyright purposes in 1928, also loses its copyright protection. Alongside, Charlie Chaplin’s The Circus joins the public domain, allowing a fresh generation to enjoy and interpret this silent romantic comedy.
Literary and Musical Works Lose Copyright Protection
The literary world can now enjoy the freedom of D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover, infamous for its candid portrayal of sexuality and once globally banned. Similarly, Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front emerges, offering insights into the ravages of war.
In the musical realm, Cole Porter’s provocative “Let’s Do It” and Kurt Weill’s haunting “Mack the Knife” break free of copyright, inviting contemporary reinterpretations and adaptations.
From Buster Keaton to Virginia Woolf and the Marx Brothers
Buster Keaton’s romantic comedy, The Cameraman, and Virginia Woolf’s transformative narrative in Orlando are also included in this impressive collection of works now in the public domain. This paves the way for renewed interpretations and academic discourse. Additionally, the Marx Brothers’ vaudevillian Animal Crackers leaps into the public domain, ready to be engaged with and interpreted by a new generation.
Freedom for a New Generation of Creators
This expansion of the public domain, meticulously cataloged by Jennifer Jenkins of Duke’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain, represents a cross-section of the socio-cultural struggles and expressions of the time. From gender exploration to societal taboos, these works offer the opportunity for creators to reimagine, reinvent, and educate anew.