Public Domain Books

Public domain books are those without any active intellectual property rights protections. This lack of protection occurs because rights have expired, been forfeited, or were never applicable. This status often applies to older works where copyright terms have expired.

Here are some prominent examples of classic books that are in the public domain:

● “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley.

● “Moby Dick” and “Typee” by Herman Melville.

● “Dracula” by Bram Stoker.

● The complete works of William Shakespeare, including “Romeo and Juliet” and “Hamlet.”

● “First Love” by Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev.

● “Twelve Years a Slave” by Solomon Northup.

● “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell.

● “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Note: This title is not yet in the public domain in the US).

● “The Black Cat” by Edgar Allan Poe.

● “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu.

● “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

● “Blazing World” by Margaret Cavendish.

● “The Art of Money Getting” by P.T. Barnum.

● “The Chinese Parrot” by Earl Derr Biggers.

● “Dream Psychology” by Sigmund Freud.

● “Ion” by Plato.

● “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

● Modest Proposal” by Jonathan Swift.

● “Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka.

● “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott.

● “War and Peace” by Leo Tolstoy.

● “A Doll’s House” (translated to English) by Henrik Ibsen.

● “Treasure Island” by Robert Louis Stevenson.

● “Ulysses” by James Joyce.

Books entering the public domain become legally available for free download in e-book form, enabling readers to enjoy these works online at no cost.

Public Domain Books

Why Are Some Books in the Public Domain?

Books enter the public domain through various mechanisms, primarily due to the passage of time. Originally, copyright was established in Great Britain in 1710, meaning any work published before this year, including all works of William Shakespeare, was never under copyright protection.

Most nations have specific laws about intellectual property rights that protect published works for a limited time. In many countries, such as the United Kingdom and the United States, copyright protection generally expires 70 years after the author’s death. If the work has co-authors, the term extends until 70 years after the death of the last surviving author.

In the United States, any work published before 1925 is considered public domain, irrespective of the author’s death date. U.S. copyrights were initially granted for 28 years. Many authors still need to renew their copyrights, leading to many works published before 1964 entering the public domain, often unbeknownst to their authors.

In some countries, copyright terms are longer, so it is crucial to be aware of local laws on intellectual property before accessing public domain works.

Books can also become public domain if an author deliberately relinquishes their copyright or, in rare cases, when copyrights are legally removed.

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