W.B. Yeats’ works fall out of copyright today

70 years after death I believe. So it seems most of Yeats’ writings are now in the public domain. I’m sure we’ll see versions of his works in Penguin Classic style versions which is nice but boring. Given the content itself is now free, it would be nice to see some nice bespoke works being brought out to wrap this content.

19th December
Photo owned by Dan Strange (cc)

And with 2010 being the year of eBooks, digital paper, tablets and the like, it would be nice to see creativity around the digital delivery mechanisms. Maybe Enhanced Editions. A W.B. Yeats iPhone app like the Guardian App? Visuals, audio and text combined and bringing you something new each day perhaps? Or something more experimental and creative like Agrippa.

I wonder will the ad companies latch on to Yeats to sell Whiskey and the like? Bill Murray quoting some lines in a Japanese ad perhaps.

Course this would make a great death metal song:


Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity

10 Responses to “W.B. Yeats’ works fall out of copyright today”

  1. […] Yeat’s work enters the public doma… W.B. Yeat’s work enters the public domain. […]

  2. Tomboktu says:

    Heh. I hope you’re right, ‘cos the last time somebody thought they had, they were sued. (But that was for commercial use, in an advert, if I remember correctly).

  3. Van the Man will finally be able to his album…

  4. Hangar Queen says:

    I may be wrong but I think some lines from The Second Coming were used in the last Battlestar Galactica offering.

    Nukes were being thrown around so very appropo.

  5. Ruth Rosenthal says:

    How can I verify the copyright status (or public domain status)
    of two of W.B. Yeats’ poems:

    “Girl’s Song” and “When you are old” ?

    I’d so appreciate your help with this.


    Ruth Roenthal

  6. […] the public domain, it now being seventy years from the end of the year of his death year of 1939. Damien Mulley, whose blog on the subject alerted me, has some interesting suggestions about how they might be used in the digital […]

  7. Carolee Dean says:

    Actually, this is not entirely true. I have a book coming out this summer that contains several lines from poems by Yeats (TAKE ME THERE, Simon Pulse, July 2010). At first I thought these were all in the public domain because of the 70 year rule, but upon closer investigation and contacting the firm in Great Britain that handles his work, I discovered that only poems published prior to 1923 are now in the public domain. If anyone needs further assistance to know what is in the public domain, I suggest you contact A.P. Watt in Great Britain and inquire about specific poems. This can be done at no charge via email. If you need to get permission to use a poem, contact Scribner’s (a division of Simon & Schuster).

  8. Hannah says:

    Hi Carolee, I was wondering if you knew how I could contact A.P Watt? I want to use a verse from ‘The Stolen Child’ published in 1889 in a book and need to check that it is ok to use. Thanks

  9. Kemfon josephneke says:

    Hmm, yeat is killing me with creativity, he evokes so much passion.

  10. David Booth says:

    Does anyone know if the “image” rights to W. B. Yeats is also out of copyright?? Image rights are (a) his personal likeness, photographs and paintings of the man and (b) his private life, upbringing, education and travels?? Thank you.