Legislation in 1998 extended copyright by 20 years, so this year marks the first time in two decades that the pool of freely available work has been added to public domain. Robert Frost's haunting little poem, Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening, entered the public domain in the US on 1 January alongside thousands of works, by authors from Agatha Christie to Virginia Woolf, in an unprecedented expiration of copyrights. Unprecedented because it has been 21 years since the last major expiration in the US: the passing of the 1998 Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act added a further 20 years to existing copyrights, meaning that the swathe of 1922 works which passed into the public domain in 1998, after a 75-year copyright term, are only now being followed by works first published in the US in 1923. "The drought is over," proclaims Duke Law School's Center for the Public Domain, highlighting some of the works which are now available royalty-free, by authors from Edgar Rice Burroughs...
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