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Works in the Public Domain for 2013 That You Might Have Missed

What Works Entered Public Domain in 2013?


Public Domain Day, January 1, 2013

If you live in the United States, this was the last year that a work entered the public domain. There are only two people and they are A E Waite (think Tarot cards!) and Grant Wood.

Until 2019, absolutely nothing else will enter the public domain in the US due to a Supreme Court ruling and the 1998 Sonny Bono Law. Sorry, but you will have to sit tight until 2019.

If you live in one of the countries of the European Union, you are in luck!

Have I got a treasure trove of public domain works for you!

This article will list them by name and a short biography (very short!) with links I hope you will click to be able to get a full list of their works and perhaps learn a little more about them as people and authors.

At the end of this list, I will showcase Grant Wood's painting "American Gothic" in order to show you how artists adapt works of art - to make their own statement, so to speak.

If you ever see a work that inspires you, where you would like to adapt it into your own work, please check to make sure it is in the public domain. If it is not, you will need to locate the licensing agent and inquire what the fee schedule is for the type of use you have in mind.

Without further ado, here are the people whose work entered public domain on January 1, 2013. Enjoy!

Persons Whose Work Entered Public Domain in 2013

The following authors, scientists, musicians and artists had copyright terms which expired in their country of origin, thereby releasing their work into the public domain.

  • Please click the links so you can learn more about what they have contributed to our world. Because I also write for Wikipedia and other wikis, almost all of the links will lead to those sites to give you more biographical details as well as a list of their works.

Arthur Edward Waite (A E Waite) October 2, 1857- May 19, 1942 - U.S. author of occult and fantasy novels, co-creator of the Rider-Waite Tarot deck.

Artturi Järviluoma - August 9, 1879 - January 31, 1942 - Finnish playwright, journalist, wrote a libretto for an opera.

Bronislaw_Malinowski - April 7, 1884 (Krakow, Poland) -May 16, 1942 - Polish author and anthropologist.

Bruno Schulz - July 12, 1892 in Drohobych (present Ukraine), - November 19, 1942 (killed by Gestapo near his home) - Polish author, painter, illustrator, art teacher, graphic artist. Most famous for his 1934 collection of short stories called The Street of Crocodiles.

Edith Stein (St. Teresa - Carmelite nun) - October 12, 1891 - August 9, 1942. A Jewish philosopher/author who became a Carmelite nun in 1933. Killed in gas chambers at Auschwitz concentration camp, with her sister Rosa, also a Carmelite nun.

Eric Ravilious - July 22, 1903 - September 2, 1942 - English painter, designer, book illustrator and wood engraver

Ernest Bramah - March 20, 1868 - June 27, 1942 - English author (Max Carrados Mysteries and others)

Francis Younghusband - May 31, 1863 - July 31, 1942 - British explorer and spiritual author.

Franz Boas - July 9, 1858 – December 21, 1942 - German anthropologist and author.

Janusz Korczak - July 22, 1878 - August 6, 1942 - Polish physician, author, social activist, and journalist. Killed at Treblinka concentration camp.

Léon Daudet - November 16, 1867 - June 30, 1942 - French novelist and journalist

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Lucy Maud Montgomery (L.M. Montgomery) - November 30, 1874 – April 24, 1942, Canadian author best known for Anne of Green Gables

Neel Doff (Cornelia Doff) - January 27, 1858 - July 14, 1942 - Dutch author.

Peadar Toner Mac Fhionnlaoich - October 5, 1857 - July 1, 1942 - Irish author

Ramon Casas i Carbó - January 4, 1866 - February 29, 1932 - Spanish artist and painter (Spain's copyright is 80 years).

Robert Musil - November 6, 1880 - April 15, 1942, Austrian author

Stefan Zweig - November 28, 1881 – February 22, 1942 - Austrian novelist, playwright, journalist and biographer.

Tatu Vaaskivi - July 19, 1912 - September 21, 1942 - Finnish novelist, critic and essayist.

Terézia Vansová - April 18, 1857 - October 10, 1942 - Slovak author and poet

Violet Hunt -September 28, 1862 – January 16, 1942 - British novelist

Wilhelm Peterson-Berger - February 27, 1867 – December 3, 1942 - Swedish composer

William Pierpont Black - 1877 – April 29, 1942 -New Zealand wood carver, journal editor and publisher, journalist.


Grant Wood - February 13, 1891 – February 12, 1942 - American painter known for his paintings depicting the rural American Midwest. His famous work "American Gothic" is showcased below.

Grant Wood - 1910 at age 18

Quick Facts

Birth Name: Grant DeVolson Wood

Date and Place of Birth: Feb. 13, 1891 Anamosa, Iowa

Date and Place of Death: Feb. 12, 1942 (at age 50) Iowa City, Iowa

Occupation: Painter

Spouse: Sara Sherman Maxon 1935-1938, divorced

Cause of Death: Pancreatic Cancer

Heir To His Works: Sister Nan Wood - died in 1990, her estate, along with Wood's personal effects and various works of art, was donated for public use to the Figge Art Museum in Iowa.

Works Entered Public Domain: January 1, 2013. Since he died in 1942, copyright ended December 31, 2012 - 70 years.

Most Famous Work: American Gothic (1930)

Grant Wood - Self Portrait

Public Domain Defined

Definition: A public domain work is a creative work that is not protected by copyright and which may be freely used by everyone. The reasons that the work is not protected include:

(1) the term of copyright for the work has expired;

(2) the author failed to satisfy statutory
formalities to perfect the copyright or

(3) the work is a work of the U.S. Government.

From University of North Carolina Project by Lolly Gasaway

Rachael O'Halloran's Guide To Cool (But Useful) Stuff™

Guide To Finding Interesting Public Domain Works Online - go exploring on this informative site.

List of Famous Books In The Public Domain - many works you see in everyday life (movies, books, advertisements, songs, etc.) which you might think are original, are in fact spun from these public domain works of yesteryear

List of Copyright Terms By Country - based on author death, and also by creation date

Copyright Term & Public Domain Dates (US) - this was updated on January 1, 2014 - sound, film, literary, and never published works



Footnote points for the chart featured above

1 Term of joint works is measured by life of the longest-lived author.

2 Works for hire, anonymous and pseudonymous works also have this term. 17 U.S.C. § 302(c).

3 Under the 1909 Act, works published without notice went into the public domain upon publication. Works published without notice between 1-1-78 and 3-1-89, effective date of the Berne Convention Implementation Act, retained copyright only if efforts to correct the accidental omission of notice was made within five years, such as by placing notice on unsold copies. 17 U.S.C. § 405.

The Story Behind American Gothic

This most famous painting measures a rather small 29¼ inches × 24½ inches. I guess when I first saw it, I was expecting a canvas about 3 feet tall and about 2 feet wide. At any rate, I expected BIG. So I was rather surprised at the size.

Wood used brilliant, intense colors and he liked patterns. He used oil glazes in most of his work and his paintings resembled lithographs. He enjoyed drawing caricatures and also liked to sketch in charcoal.

His style was compared to American folk art and to artist Norman Rockwell.

From 1927 to 1929, he went to Germany to learn how to make and paint a stained glass window. While there, he picked up German and Gothic influences in his work. When he came back to Iowa, upon passing through the town of Eldon, he found a small Gothic Revival style cottage with a unique window in the upstairs part of the house.

He imagined the kind of people who might have lived in the house and decided to paint a farmer with his spinster daughter by his side. (And I always thought it was his wife!)

Grant Wood asked his dentist and his sister Nan to model for him. Nan liked to say that it was the farmer's spinster daughter because it made her appear younger as the model. In most articles, the characters are referred to as a farmer and his wife, which are depicted in the traditional married couple role.

But Wood referred to them as father and daughter in this 1941 letter written shortly before his death in reply to a fan. The letter is interesting because he describes what he imagined to be their life.

The wife's cameo brooch, dark apron and dimunitive tie are a bit severe, but typical for 19th century life. The husband's pitchfork is meant to indicate hard work on a farm.

When it was done, Grant Wood named his painting "American Gothic."

  • Although Wood had been married for a short time, he left his entire estate to his sister, Nan. She died at the age of 90 in 1990 and she donated everything to the University of Iowa, stipulating that it was for public use.

He exhibited his painting at the Art Institute of Chicago (who purchased the painting). The museum gave the painting a bronze medal and awarded it $300 in prize money. The newspapers picked up his story, gaining him national recognition. His painting immediately was praised by art critics and soon it became a cultural icon.

They say that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. His work "American Gothic" has been imitated and parodied for many years and used in advertisements and cartoons.

I wonder what he would think of that.

Discover Grant Wood!

Public Domain Use

© 2014 Rachael O'Halloran


Rachael O'Halloran (author) from United States on September 18, 2015:

Thanks Essie :)

Essie from Southern California on August 05, 2015:

Excellent Hub, like a feast for a banquet table!


Rachael O'Halloran (author) from United States on February 01, 2015:

Lee Hansen,

It seems as soon as something is released into public domain, there is an influx of new works based on the old. I also enjoy seeing the ideas that sprout from them.

Lately, I've cut down my writing here considerably due to a lot of my work being copied to other sites, but I do hope to get busy writing here again soon.

Thank you for your praise, for commenting and for bookmarking.

Lee Hansen from Vermont on February 01, 2015:

Excellent reference article about public domain works. I do enjoy the various American Gothic parody and pastiche art I've seen lately. I guess the release into PD in 2013 triggered some of that. Bookmarking this and several other of your articles to come back to for info and inspiration.

Rachael O'Halloran (author) from United States on September 18, 2014:


Yep, duly noted! lol

Thanks for reading.

Victor W. Kwok from Hawaii on September 18, 2014:

Like everyone, I thought they were husband and wife.

Rachael O'Halloran (author) from United States on September 17, 2014:


And who would have thought it all these years later that I just had to burst that bubble with this article! lol

There are a lot more photos parodying the American Gothic. I wasn't about to ask permission of the owners to publish them here. I took just the ones I knew would not infringe on copyrights. Altogether, I found over 300 parodies. Google "American Gothic," then click IMAGES in the tab and you'll see what I mean. lol

Thanks for reading and commenting.

Rachael O'Halloran (author) from United States on September 17, 2014:


I'm glad you thought so too. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Rachael O'Halloran (author) from United States on September 17, 2014:


Surprise, surprise! lol Yeah, real wedded bliss. :)

Thanks for reading and commenting.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on September 17, 2014:

Great info; I always thought the American Gothic was husband and wife too. I love pictures like that but very surprised we don't have many more and there you surprised me with a few fun more! ^+

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on September 16, 2014:

This hub is both interesting and useful, Rachel. Thanks for sharing the information.

FlourishAnyway from USA on September 16, 2014:

Well, I thought they were married, too. They have the look of wedded bliss. We learn so much from you, Rachael.

Rachael O'Halloran (author) from United States on September 16, 2014:


I'm glad you learned something from this article. It tickles me that I'm able to provide new information to readers. American Gothic has been parodied for years, even before it came into public domain.

Grant Wood's sister Nan Wood donated his whole collection to University of Iowa EXCEPT for American Gothic which is owned by Art Institute of Chicago. It remained under Wood's copyright even though they owned it. There is some conjecture that they also took over the licensing rights which explains the years of parody.

Now it is public domain, so have fun using it as you please.

Thank you for reading and for your comment.

Ronald E Franklin from Mechanicsburg, PA on September 16, 2014:

This is great info to have. I had previously refrained from using American Gothic in an article, thinking it was still in copyright. I found out basically by accident that it had come into the public domain. This kind of info would have been very helpful at the time. Thanks for being a great resource for writers.

Rachael O'Halloran (author) from United States on September 16, 2014:


I'm glad you are finding new stuff on my articles. I aim to be original! lol

Thanks for reading and for your compliments.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on September 16, 2014:

Always new information from you and I enjoy reading your hubs. A learning lesson and lots to take in but I don't have a problem with that. Keep sharing your great mind.

Rachael O'Halloran (author) from United States on September 16, 2014:


I'm so glad you came by and chose this article to read (out of the volume of work) because my public domain topics are probably one of the most important of the lot, besides internet safety and copyright articles.

Public domain is very important to our culture and without it, old works can and probably will fade away.

We will no longer have the inspiration to do revivals or develop new interpretations of the works.

It goes beyond "Oh I could have written that better" and steps into "What if" territory. And that's why public domain works are important to our culture today.

Congress pleads that keeping public domain populated will stifle creative thinking and new works will come to a halt if we keep doing new interpretations of old works.

What they fail to understand is that those new interpretations ARE creative thinking. To take someone's work and make something new so that readers/viewers/listeners see it with a different eye/ear/voice is truly creative.

After listing all the contributors to public domain for 2013, I chose to showcase Grant Wood not only because his work was interesting, but also because I had my own questions about "American Gothic" subjects.

The history and development details were interesting to me and I thought they would be to readers too. I'm glad you confirmed that for me!

Thank you for taking time out to read my articles, for your praise and supportive votes.

Rachael O'Halloran (author) from United States on September 16, 2014:


I'm glad you took time to read my article. I thought this one was fascinating not only because of the eclectic list of contributors to our public domain, but also the background behind Grant Wood's famous 1930 painting which cleared up a few 84 year old questions.

At least it did for me. I always viewed the couple as farmer and wife.

Thank you for your praise and your daily support. :)

Rachael O'Halloran (author) from United States on September 16, 2014:


I always thought they were married too....just the look on her face said "married" to me! lol

I guess with art, the interpretation is in the mind of the viewer, and with this painting, it certainly has a few interpretations.

The letter I included - Grant Wood's reply to a fan - sealed the deal for me in knowing his intention when he painted it.

So, I guess now we know - they are brother and sister.

But I will always look at them as farmer and wife! lol

Thanks for reading and for your constant support.

Sparklea from Upstate New York on September 16, 2014:

Hi Rachael, I am on the fly, but I took time to read this incredible hub about Grant Wood...which is so beyond interesting. You are tremendous with the information you provide. THRILLED to see a picture of who modeled for this painting, who they were, and to learn more about the painter. Your explanation of the details is terrific. Voted up, useful, awesome and interesting. This is a memorable write...and THANK YOU!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on September 16, 2014:

The research you do is impressive. Your writing is enjoyable and easy to understand....all in all, another winner here my friend.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on September 16, 2014:

This is interesting, Rachael. I always thought the couple in the famous painting were married. I was surprised to see Mike and Molly depicted on Mad Magazine. I had no idea that magazine is in print! It was one of my favorites when I was young.

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