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You’re about to see a lot more (legal) versions of “The Scream”

A figure from Edvard Munch's painting "The Scream" is seen in front of a flight departure information board during a demonstration to protest against aircraft noise and the northwest runway, at the main terminal of Frankfurt's airport March 12, 2012. REUTERS/Alex Domanski
Reuters/Alex Domanski
Free at last.
Published This article is more than 2 years old.

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:

Edvard Munch (Painter, The Scream)

AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth
Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’ is seen as it is hung for display at a 2012 Sotheby’s auction.

Rachel Carson (Author, Silent Spring)

AP Photo/Bob Schutz
Carson, posing at her Washington home in 1963.

Piet Mondrian (Painter, “Composition with Red, Yellow and Blue”)

AP Photo/Sang Tan
A Sotheby’s employee poses with Mondrian’s 1927 painting ‘Composition with Red, Yellow and Blue’ on display at the auction house in in 2013.

Felix Nussbaum (Painter, “Self Portrait with Jewish Identity Card”)

AP Photo/Heribert Proepper
A museum visitor views “Self-Portrait with Jewish Identity Card” at a 1998 exhibit.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (Author, The Little Prince)

AP Photo
Saint-Exupery—here with his wife Consuelo—disappeared during a military reconnaissance flight over the Mediterranean in 1944.

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