Each year a handful of creative works enter the public domain. In 2021, many titles will become freely available for adaption, including Scott F. Fitzgerald’s classic novel The Great Gatsby.
What is the public domain?
The public domain applies to creative works that no longer hold exclusive intellectual property rights. This means that anyone wishing to adapt, recreate or use an original work can do so without needing to secure the copyright beforehand.
The rules for public domain vary in each country, but in the US and Australia, a work can enter the public domain 70 years after the author’s death. This was applied in Australia in 2019, where it was previously 50 years after death.
Titles entering the public domain in 2021
In 2021, many significant works from 1925 will be entering the public domain, including an array of famous novels and films.
However, the copyright laws of each individual country can impact whether something can enter the public domain. So certain works may not be freely available everywhere at the same time.
Here are some notable titles coming into the public domain from Jan 1, 2021.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel, The Great Gatsby, has already received a film adaptation from Baz Luhrmann in 2013, Jack Clayton in 1974 and three other screen adaptions since its release in 1925. When it enters the public domain on January 1 it is sure to be one of the most popular picks.
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway was adapted into a film of the same name in 1997, starring Vanessa Redgrave and Lena Headey. It also inspired The Hours starring Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman.
Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis
The Pulitzer prize-winning novel from Sinclair Lewis, Arrowsmith, will become available in 2021. The story explores the inner culture of science and even features a virus outbreak with the bubonic plague – very timely. Arrowsmith no doubt get a new adaptation soon enough.
The Trial by Franz Kafka
The Trial is a famous novel by German writer Franz Kafka. The story is well known for its investigation into guilt and the judicial system, but notably never reveals the nature of the protagonist’s crime to the reader. It’s inspired multiple film adaptations, including one from Orson Welles.
Here’s a list of some of the other notable titles coming into the public domain from January 1, 2021.
- In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway
- An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
- Christina Alberta’s Father by H.G. Wells
- Manhatten Transfer by John Dos Passos
- The Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie
- Those Barren Leaves by Aldous Huxley
- Go West directed by Buster Keaton (film)
- The Gold Rush directed by Charlie Chaplin (film)
- Ben Hur directed by Ramon Navarro (film)
- Lovers in Quarantine directed by Frank Tuttle (film)
- Stella Dallas directed by Henry King (film)
Ironic that Lovers in Quarantine is a thing that enters the public realm in 2021. There’s already a slew of pandemic related films coming our way, so you can bet that one will be in demand.
Make sure to check these titles out before they get a slew of remakes, reboots and reimaginings.