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Copyright Class of 2014

The debate over copyright—its value and appropriate length—is far from resolved, but the anti-copyright crowd celebrates what it can. January 1 marks the fifth year of international parties (with the biggest in Zurich) for Public Domain Day, when works become open. A brief guide to this year:

Copyright Class of 2014

[Image by Everett Collection]

Going public in Europe:

Sergei Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
Stephen Vincent Benét's The Devil and Daniel Webster
Beatrix Potter's The Fairy Caravan

What would have been public in America , had the law not been extended in 1978:

Jack Kerouac's On the Road
Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged
Dr. Seuss's The Cat in the Hat

What would have been public in America , had the law not been Re-extended in 1998:

Howard Hawks's Bringing Up Baby
Orson Welles's War of the Worlds
Thornton Wilder's Our Town

Next year in research: Copyright expert Paul Heald plans to test a common copyright defense—that if popular characters become public, porn will devalue their brands. "We're trying to work out an experiment," he says. The subject: Star Trek.

A version of this article appeared in the December 2013 / January 2014 issue of Fast Company magazine.