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11 Classic books that are now out of copyright
In most countries copyright law works on the principle of ‘life plus 70 years’, which means that books enter the public domain 70 years after the death of the author. However, in the US, works created before 1 January 1978 are protected for 95 years from the date they were copyrighted. This means that many classic books published in 1927 will enter the public domain in 2023 and you’ll be able to download them as free ebooks from US websites such as Project Gutenberg (www.snipca. com/44263).
Notable titles include To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and HP Lovecraft’s The Colour Out of Space, but due to the difference in copyright law, all three are already available from the excellent site Global Grey (www.snipca.com/44264). This offers more than 2,400 public- domain ebooks from hundreds of famous authors to download legally for free. You can choose between PDF, EPUB and MOBI formats, depending on which device you plan to read on (none of the books are DRM-protected), and don’t need to register any details - just click the relevant Download button (see screenshot above).
12 Audiobooks you don’t have to pay for
If you prefer listening to books to reading them, the audiobook service LibriVox (www.snipca. com/44270) will also be adding lots of newly out-of-copyright titles in 2023. It already offers more than 45,000 audiobooks, which are read by volunteers from all over the world and can be downloaded as ZIP files containing MP3s of each chapter (see screenshot above). All the content is free to download, unlike Spotify’s new Audiobooks section. Why pay the streaming service to hear AA Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh (which entered the
public domain at the start of 2022) when you can choose from three free versions on LibriVox (www.snipca. com/44265)?
The free LibriVox Audio Books app for Android (www.snipca. com/44266) and iOS (www.snipca. com/44267) lets you browse its library on your phone or tablet, download audiobooks to listen to offline and stream them to a Bluetooth speaker or Chromecast device.
13 Classic films that are now out of copyright
As with books, films that were copyrighted in the US in 1927 will enter the public domain in 2023, so you’ll be able to download them for free without fear of prosecution. Some are already available on the Internet Archive and YouTube, but probably shouldn’t be, and their picture quality varies greatly. We expect to see remastered versions appear online over the next year, which should delight anyone interested in the history of cinema.
Classic movies that will be legal to download in 2023 include The Jazz Singer, the first feature-length film with synchronised sound and spoken dialogue – or ‘talkie’ for short. You can watch and download it now at www. snipca.com/44273 if you can’t wait. Another cinematic landmark, Fritz Lang’s dystopian masterpiece Metropolis, will also enter the public domain, or rather re-enter following a complicated copyright history. Again, this is already available to download from the Internet Archive (see screenshot left) – the two-and-half-hourlong ‘complete restored’ version (www. snipca.com/44274) is the best one to watch.
Other films whose copyright expires in 2023 include Alfred Hitchcock’s first thriller The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (www.snipca.com/44275), Clara Bow in It (www.snipca.com/44276) and FW Murnau’s silent classic Sunrise (www.snipca.com/44277).
14 Royalty-free music and sounds from YouTube
YouTube has announced plans to launch a service called Creator Music in 2023, and is already testing it in the US. This will allow ‘creators’ to find and license songs for their YouTube videos without having to share their ad revenue with musiccopyright holders. It sounds useful for people who earn their livelihood through YouTube, but the rest of us can download free music to use in videos and other projects from the existing YouTube Audio Library.
To access this feature, visit YouTube Studio (www.snipca.com/44285) and click ‘Audio library’ on the left ( in our screenshot below) to browse nearly 1,750 royalty-free tracks. Click the ‘Search or filter library’ button to filter the list by genre, mood and duration, then click the play button to hear a track in your browser. Click ‘Download’ to save the audio to your PC in MP3 format.
Considering that all the music is free, it’s good quality and includes classical pieces as well as country and folk, jazz and blues, and much more. YouTube Audio Library also lets you download hundreds of free sound effects, with descriptive names such as ‘Toilet flush small bathroom’ and ‘Tamping soil’.
15 High-quality photos and graphics
In November, the stock-photo website Dreamstime launched a new ‘freemium’ plan, which lets you download thousands of highquality, royalty-free images without paying for a subscription. This makes it ideal for sourcing photos, illustrations, abstract graphics and more for use in your personal and professional projects.
You need to sign up for a free Dreamstime account, which confusingly asks you to choose a payment plan, but ignore this and head to the Free Photos section (www.snipca.com/44300). Here you download free images with a single click – these are usually in JPEG format with a 300dpi resolution.
Dreamstime may ask you to credit the photographer.
Adobe Stock also has a huge collection of free stock photos and graphics at www.snipca.com/44301 – you’ll need an Adobe ID to download them.
16 High-resolution copies of famous artworks
Throughout 2022, climate protestors expressed their eco-rage by vandalising famous works of art in galleries around the
world. Ensure you have pristine versions of your favourite in 2023 paintings by downloading highresolution copies from Artvee (https://artvee.com).
This site lets you browse more than 6,000 artworks from hundreds of notable artists, and save them to your hard drive to use as you please – they’re all in the public domain, so you needn’t worry about copyright. These include paintings that recently suffered attacks, including Gustav Klimt’s Death and Life, Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring (pictured) and Raphael’s Sistine Madonna.
It’s free to download high-quality images of each work, but to get the massive, maximum resolution versions you need an Artvee Pro subscription (US$7.99 a month).
17 Free flight simulator
Microsoft recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of its
Flight Simulator in November by adding helicopters and gliders, as well as more airports. Although the update is free to install, the full
Microsoft Flight Simulator 40th Anniversary Edition costs from $99.95 to buy. This may currently be too expensive for all but the highest fliers, so why not take to the skies for free in 2023 by downloading FlightGear
This amazing open-source flight simulator puts you in the cockpit of hundreds of planes, helicopters (pictured above right) and other aircraft, and lets you fly to and from 40,000 real-world airports. FlightGear
is a big download (1.8GB) and its controls take a while to master, but there’s plenty of online help at www. snipca.com/44310 and it was recently updated to make flying smoother than ever.
18 Life-simulation game The Sims 4
Even if you don’t often play video games, you’re probably familiar with The Sims, the popular ‘life-simulation’ game in which you create a virtual character, build and furnish a house, then explore your 3D environment and interact with other characters. In October, the game’s developer, EA, made the most recent version (The Sims 4) free to download on computers and consoles.
There are two ways to download The Sims 4 to your PC in 2023. The easiest is to install EA’s desktop app (www. snipca.com/44297), create a free account and find the game – it should be on the home screen under ‘Top games’. Click ‘Download’ (see screenshot above) to save The Sims 4 to your hard drive – note that it requires nearly 20GB of free space.
Alternatively, you can download it – and other free titles – by installing the Steam app (www.snipca. com/44298). Although The Sims 4 is now free, you need to pay for add-ons to get extra items and skills.