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Celebrate Public Domain Day With Works by Kafka, Hemingway, and Zora Neale Hurston

Hyperallergic: “There’s no better way to observe the dawn of a new year of the roaring 2020s than celebrating Public Domain Day. On January 1, 2022, cultural items in the archive dating from 1926 shed their copyright and made their proper full and proper entrance into society. In 2022, for the first time, a swath of 400,000 sound recordings published before 1923 will join the public domain thanks to the Music Modernization Act (MMA) passed in 2018.  The lion’s share of holdings in the National Jukebox, the Library of Congress’ archive of historical sound recordings, will become public domain, and it includes both popular music spanning the genres of jazz, folk, Broadway musical, ragtime, and blues, as well as spoken word. Before the MMA was passed, we would have had to wait until 2067 before these recordings were released to the public. Scott Joplin’s recorded work and Thomas Edison’s recordings are among the gems in this category. This means that musicians and DJs can start mixing tracks like Edison singing “Mary Had a Little Lamb” with fun bops like “Ramshackle Rag.” (Citizen DJ, a project spearheaded by innovator-in-residence at the Library of Congress Brian Foo, already plans to make these tunes easily accessible for anybody’s remixing needs.)   Also joining the public domain are novels from Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner (all the more fodder for comparisons of modernist prose coming to creative writing classes near you); A. A. Milne’s first Winnie the Pooh book (the second follows in 2024); and Langston Hughes’ debut poetry collection The Weary Blues. And that’s just skimming the surface of works that already enjoy decent acclaim — the introduction of new works into the public domain means that the next gem from our cultural heritage awaits rediscovery…”

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