On January 1, 2022 hundreds of thousands published works entered the public domain. When works enter the public domain they are free for anyone to discover, download, share, and remix without copyright restrictions or limitations.
This year’s Public Domain Day is especially notable because it includes over 400,000 sound recordings created before 1923. This long list includes work by Mamie Smith and Her Jazz Hounds (Crazy Blues, Don’t Care Blues, That Thing Called Love, You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down), Ory’s Sunshine Orchestra (Ory’s Creole Trombone), and more.
Anyone can now use and remix these sound recordings. To try your hand at remixing these sounds, make your own samples with public domain recordings from the Library of Congress using Brian Foo’s CitizenDJ tool. You’ll find my first attempt at mixing the Bow Wow Blues (1921) to the right.
In addition to the sound recordings, books, like A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh and Langston Hughes’ The Weary Blues are now open. Films like Battling Butler starring Buster Keaton and Don Juan are also freely available. A longer list, along with informative commentary about copyright and public domain, can be found on Duke’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain website.