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Copyright extinctions offer prospects of a creative wave

William Shakespeare wrote, “What’s past is prologue.” This is his way of saying what has happened already merely sets the stage for what’s to come.

This comes to mind because as we enter the new year, the U.S. is experiencing something that holds the potential to unleash a massive wave of human creativity, and with that is sure to come a tsunami of works meriting the protections only available through the proper application of intellectual property law.

The fuse at the base of this anticipated explosion, according to knowledgeable observers, is the mass expiration of copyrights on myriad pieces of art, music, books, poems, paintings, photographs and movies. The materials in question have enjoyed copyright protection since 1923, but now will enter the public domain.

Included among items that will come out from under the cover of copyright are such movies as:

  • “The Ten Commandments,” by Cecil B. DeMille
  • “Scaramouche,” by Rex Ingram
  • “The Pilgrim,” by Charlie Chaplin
  • “Safety Last!” featuring Harold Lloyd

From the ranks of the publishing world are book and poem titles by such authors as:

  • Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • Agatha Christie
  • e.e. cummings
  • Kahlil Gibran
  • Carl Sandberg
  • Robert Frost

Many songs you may have only a fleeting familiarity with will now be available for free use, including:

  • Charleston
  • Who’s Sorry Now
  • Yes, We Have No Bananas

Experts note that items being released from copyright restriction number in the hundreds of thousands, and they say they expect that to trigger a creative boom as the works are reused, reapplied and changed. At the very least, the ease of dissemination makes it possible for great works to begin reaching those in generations born in the 21st century and beyond.

As these items in public domain inspire new work, creators should understand what’s necessary to register and renew their rights for maximizing financial opportunities from their work by consulting with intellectual property law firm Wang IP Law Group, P.C.

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