Wonder no more! The helpful folks at Sunstein Kann Murphy & Timbers LLP have created a flowchart that helps you determine whether a work is in the public domain.
Check it out here.
What’s nice about the public domain? You can freely create derivative works without fear of infringing on someone’s copyright. That’s right, if you want to use the ghosts of Romeo and Juliet, you do not need to seek out permission from his descendants.
That’s part of the reason that so many movies remake classic stories, or why the author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has not been sued by Jane Austen’s descendants.
What is your favorite story in the public domain? Have you written a derivative work based on a classic? What do you think?