The short answer, via Duke Law’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain?
Under the law that existed until 1978 . . . Works from 1955
A taste of the long answer:
Think of the movies from 1955 that would have become available this year. You could have shared clips online with your friends. You could have shown the full films in your local theater. You could have spliced and remixed and made documentaries about them. Instead, here are a few of the movies that we won’t see in the public domain for another 39 years:
• The Seven Year Itch, directed by Billy Wilder; starring Marilyn Monroe and Tom Ewell
• Lady and the Tramp, Walt Disney Productions’ classic animation
• Mister Roberts, directed by John Ford; starring Henry Fonda, James Cagney, and Jack Lemmon
• Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief, starring Cary Grant and Grace Kelly
• The thriller The Night of the Hunter, directed by Charles Laughton; starring Robert Mitchum and Shelley Winters
• Two of James Dean’s three major motion pictures: East of Eden, directed by Elia Kazan and co-starring Raymond Massey and Julie Harris; and Rebel Without a Cause, directed by Nicholas Ray and co-starring Natalie Woods, Sal Mineo, and Jim Backus
• Hollywood versions of major Broadway musicals such as Oklahoma! and Guys and Dolls
• Richard III, Laurence Olivier’s film version of the Shakespeare play, co-starring Claire Bloom, Cedric Hardwicke, Nicholas Hannen, Ralph Richardson, and John Gielgud
There’s much more… including how even those materials from 1955 that actually did fall out of copyright today for various technical reasons still remain inaccessible. *argh* It’s an infuriating read about a situation that makes us weaker and poorer as a culture, and exists only in the furtherance of ongoing corporate profit.
Via Boing Boing.
(If you stumble across a must-read link, feel free to email me.)