F. Scott Fitzgerald's the Great Gatsby now in the public domain

Leonardo DiCaprio, Jay Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, public domain
Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby in the 2013 movie adaptation (© Warner Bros.)

F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, the famous novel set in 1920's America, is now in the public domain 95 years after its original publication in 1925. The story has been adapted to a movie with the same title in 2013, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire.

This means you can create your own works based on Fitzgerald's story without fear of breaching copyright.

What does Public Domain mean?

Simply put, works in the public domain are those whose copyright has expired. It means that these works are now free for the public to use, modify, or build upon without the restrictions of copyright. Works usually enter the public domain when the copyright expires.

In the US, intellectual property law usually stipulates that works are protected by copyright under the following options: 

  • within the author's lifetime plus 70 years after their death
  • 120 years from its creation
  • 95 years after publication date

Works that entered the Public Domain this 2021

Aside from the Great Gatsby, literary works by notable authors have also entered the public domain this year: Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway, Ernest Hemingway's In our Time, Franz Kafka's The Trial in the original German, and many others. Several films and music pieces have also entered the public domain. See this list compiled by the Center for the Study of Public Domain.

Works of F. Scott Fitzgerald in the Public Domain

Several of the author's works are already in the public domain before 2021 such as This Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and the Damned, Tales of the Jazz Age, and Flappers and Philosophers. They are available for download in Project Gutenberg, an online library of copyright-free books.

The Great Gatsby can now be read in its entirety in Google Books.

Source: Jenkins, J. (2021). January 1, 2021 is Public Domain Day: Works from 1925 are open to all!.

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