Producers: these songs are now in the public domain and free to sample

These tracks no longer have copyright protection.

Copyright symbol fading away

Credit: Manuel Augusto Moreno/Getty Images

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Good things come to those who wait – and while the world counted down to welcome in the New Year, many were eagerly waiting for the clock to strike midnight to see what creative treasures were being released to the public.

At the start of every year, many pieces of art enter the public domain. Public Domain Day on 1st January marks the shift, allowing masses of old literature, music and art to be used freely without fear of copyright infringement.

Pieces are generally unleashed into the public domain 70 years after the creator’s death, and this copyright-free existence allows the creator’s work to live on through other people’s creative feats. From musical adaptations to remix sampling, there’s no end to how people may breathe new life into old songs, books and plays.

This year, an impressive amount of iconic pieces have entered the public domain. Most notably Mickey Mouse is now free to use – albeit only his original 1928 Steamboat Willie depiction. Pooh’s lovable pal Tigger is also now free to be used by the public.

Literature lovers will be happy to hear Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence is now free to use, so keep your eyes peeled for any film or play adaptations. Film buffs will also be pleased to know Carl Theodor Dreyer’s masterful The Passion Of Joan Arc is also free to use – so don’t be shocked if you see of the film’s shots cropping up in music videos, or any attempts at a remake.

Musically, Cole Porter’s heartfelt Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall In Love) from Broadway classic Paris was one of the few tracks freed from the vaults. Elsewhere, the stunning jazz duet I Can’t Give You Anything but Love, Baby by Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields is also now free to use. Songs from Bertolt Brecht’s German musical The Threepenny Opera were also freed, including Mack The Knife and When You’re Smiling.

We should say, though, that only the original recordings of the above songs are in the public domain, and any later versions may still be subject to copyright restrictions. If you’re looking to use a sample in your own work, it’s always worth doing your research to be absolutely clear you’re operating on the right side of the law.


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