Why Isn’t Gatsby in the Public Domain?

The Great GatsbyWhen The Great Gatsby rolls out to theaters across the country this weekend, it will bring to the screen a story familiar to millions from a literary classic that’s often dubbed the proverbial “Great American Novel.” Here’s what many folks don’t know: even though the book was published nearly 90 years ago and is a long-established part of our shared cultural heritage, it has not yet entered the public domain.

Yes, even though F. Scott Fitzgerald died 73 years ago (and is therefore unlikely to be incentivized to produce more work), The Great Gatsby is still restricted by copyright.

In fact, it won’t be truly free to the American public until January 1, 2021 — and even then only if copyright terms aren’t extended again. Thanks to the 1998 Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, no published US works will enter the public domain until 2019.1 Some countries have slightly saner copyright terms, but the U.S. Trade Rep is working diligently to use international agreements like the TPP to ratchet up terms around the world.

Read the full article @ EFF.org.

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