Jan 7, 2021

All books are equal, but some are more equal than others

Eric Arthur Blair, more commonly known as George Orwell, was a British journalist and author who wrote two of the most famous novels of the 20th century in Animal Farm & Nineteen Eighty-Four. Orwell died at the age 46 at University College Hospital in London in 1950. Unlike many of the Orwell’s contemporaries who lived much longer, the majority of Orwell’s works have now become free of copyright protection as of 1 January 2021.

This has been no secret to publishers, many of which have been working to take advantage of the lapse in copyright protection in Orwell’s works. For example, Oxford University Press is publishing a World’s Classics versions of Orwell’s major books, with detailed collections of his works about to hit the shelves such as “George Orwell: Visions of Dystopia”.

With that said, the expiry of Orwell’s copyright in his works does not allow for a free for all in respect of adaptations. Peter Davison, who is an Orwell scholar, produced new editions of six of Orwell’s novels in the 1980’s. These independent works have copyright vested in them separately. Any material that came into the public eye post 1950 which Davison then assembled in his work “George Orwell: The Complete Works in 1998 is not available. Therefore care must still be taken not to infringe these existing works. Nevertheless, the door is open for film makers who want to bring Orwell’s most famous works life. In fact, we may see an influx of Animal Farm musical or movies in the near future.

If you have any questions on the above, please do not hesitate to contact the team at McDaniels Law on 0191 281 4000 or legal@mcdanielslaw.com.

Posted by: Tom Staveley in: Copyright

Share this page