Each January 1, the copyright on a raft of artistic works expires and they enter the public domain. It’s an occurrence celebrated annually as Public Domain Day.
Restrictions on the works’ use more or less disappear, so publishers, for example, can be free to print their own editions without paying royalties to the authors’ estates—as many do with public domain works such as those of Shakespeare. And artists can sample liberally from the works without any licensing contracts or fees.
The length of copyright in many countries—including most of the European Union—is 70 years beyond the death of the artist. Part of what we’re seeing now is the works of people who died in 1944—some World War II related—coming out of copyright. (The US is among the most protective—no additional published works are expected to go out of copyright until 2019.)
While the length of copyright varies by country, the Public Domain Review highlighted some notable members of its ”Class of 2015“ of deceased authors and artists whose works are moving out of copyright in at least some jurisdictions. Here are some of them: