‘The Great Gatsby’ And These Other Iconic Works Are Now In The Public Domain

Muppets' Great Gatsby, anyone?


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Creators are now able to freely adapt F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, ‘The Great Gatsby’ in new ways without infringing copyright, along with other classic works from 1925.

Depending on the copyright laws at the time, most works will eventually come out of copyright and enter the public domain. This means creators are free to reimagine and adapt works for free without dealing with the original authors’ estates. For works published between 1923 and 1977, copyright expires after 95 years.

2021 sees a host of well knows and well-loved classics entering the public domain, including F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. But joining The Great Gatsby will also be Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, Ernest Hemingway’s In Our Time, Agatha Christie’s The Secret of Chimneys, Sinclair Lewis’s Arrowsmith, Franz Kafka’s The Trial (in German), Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy, Edith Wharton’s The Writing of Fiction, and Aldous Huxley’s Those Barren Leaves.

The copyright lift also applies to film. Classic films, Harold Lloyd’s The Freshman and Buster Keaton’s Go West are also now in the public domain, alongside music from jazz icon, Gertrude “Ma” Rainey

The reimaginings and adaptations have already begun too. Michael Farris Smith’s prequel to The Great Gatsby, Nick, is due to be published on the 5th of January. While Viola Davis recently portrayed jazz songstress, Ma Rainey in the Netflix biopic, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, released in late 2020.

Copyright lifts don’t just benefit fanfiction writers and creatives, they also benefit consumers. A book in the public domain costs less to publish, and thus printed editions can be purchased more cheaply. It also means the whole text can be available for free. In short, the text becomes way more accessible. So, if you haven’t read The Great Gatsby, its the best time to do it inexpensively.

You want to write a version of The Great Gatsby where its a musical? Do it! How about where Jay realises his true love is actually Nick? Or what about a musical version where Daisy has a big number to realise Jay just ain’t all that. There are even stirrings of a Muppets’ Great Gatsby

Personally, I am excited about Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dollaway entering the public domain. My very gay Avengers-style crossover event of all Virginia Woolf’s characters is coming along quite nicely.

Whatever you decide to do with him, The Great Gatsby and its contemporaries belong to the people now. May the parodies, musicals, and Muppet adaptations begin!

Merryana Salem is a proud Wonnarua and Lebanese–Australian critic, teacher, researcher and podcaster on most social media as @akajustmerry. If you want, check out her podcast, GayV Club where she gushes about LGBT rep in media with her best friend. Either way, she hopes you ate something nice today.