The new year has just come, and a new year is usually filled with optimism and renewal. But certain things should not be renewed, and due to an unfortunate law passed in 1978, and amended 20 years later in 1998, they have been.
This is in reference to the 1978 passing of the (US) Copyright Act of 1976, which extended the maximum 56 years in which works could be copyrighted (from the date of publishing), to 70 years from the author’s passing, and the 1998 amendment that extended the original 56 years to 95, for works published between 1950 and 1963.
The Fellowship of the Ring would be in the public domain now based on pre-1978 laws
Without these two changes, works published in 1954 would have just become public domain on January 1st, and it includes books such as The Lord of the Flies, the first two Lord of the Rings books, Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!, Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; and movies such as On the Waterfront, Hitchcock’s Rear Window, Akira Kurasawa’s Seven Samurai, Disney’s 20000 Leagues Under the Sea and many more distinguished titles. We would then be able to read these books on our iPads and Kindles, or download and watch these movies on our computers, and all legally, without the need to pay.