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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 websites such as Project Gutenberg ( www.gutenberg.org).
Notable titles include To T he Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, The Case BookofSherlockHolmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and HP Lovecraft’s The ColorOut ofSpace, but due to the difference in copyright law, all three are already available from the excellent UK site Global Grey ( www.globalgreyebooks. com). This offers more than 2,400 publicdomain 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—click the relevant Download button (see screenshot below).
12. Audiobooks you don’t have to pay for
If you prefer listening to books to reading them, the audiobook service LibriVox ( librivox.org) will also be adding lots of newly out-ofcopyright 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? The free LibriVox Audio Books app for Android ( tinyurl.com/3d8kecyk) and iOS ( tinyurl. com/4x3edv9m) 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, although they probably shouldn’t be, and the picture quality varies greatly. However, you can expect to see remastered versions appear online over the year, which should delight anyone interested in the history of cinema.
Classic movies that will be legal to download in 2023 include TheJazz Singer, the first feature-length film with synchronized sound and spoken dialogue, or ‘talkie’. You can watch it now at ( archive.org/details/jazzsinger_Title_1). Another cinematic landmark, Fritz Lang’s dystopian masterpiece Metropolis, will also enter the public domain (or re-enter following a complicated copyright history). Already available to download from the Internet Archive (see screenshot), the 2.5hour ‘complete restored’ version ( archive. org/details/metropolis.1927.fritz-lang) is the best one to watch. Other films whose copyright expires in 2023 include Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller TheLodger:AStory ofthe LondonFog ( archive.org/details/ TheLodgerAStoryOfTheLondonFog_579), Clara Bow in It ( archive.org/details/ it_20190801) and FW Murnau’s silent classic Sunrise ( tinyurl.com/bdfr754w).
15. High-quality photos and graphics
In November, the stock photo website Dreamstime launched a new ‘freemium’ plan, which lets you download thousands of high-quality, 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 will need to sign up for a free Dreamstime account, which rather confusingly asks you to choose a payment plan. Ignore this and head to the Free Photos section ( www.dreamstime.com/ free-photos). Here, you can 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 ( stock. adobe.com). You’ll need an Adobe ID to download them.
16. High-resolution copies of famous artworks
Throughout 2022, climate protestors expressed their ecorage by vandalizing famous works of art in galleries around the world. Ensure you have pristine versions of your favorite paintings by downloading highres copies from Artvee ( 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 DeathandLife, Johannes Vermeer’s GirlwithaPearlEarring, and Raphael’s SistineMadonna.
It’s free to download high-quality images of each work but to get the huge, maximum-resolution versions, you need an Artvee Pro subscription ($8).
17. Free flight simulator
Microsoft recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of its Flight Simulator by adding helicopters and gliders, as well as more airports. Although the update is free to install, the full Microsoft FlightSimulator4 0th AnniversaryEdition costs $60 to buy or $10 per month with a PC Game Pass subscription. This may be too expensive for all but the highest fliers, so why not take to the skies for free by downloading FlightGear ( www.flightgear.org)?
This amazing open-source flight simulator puts you in the cockpit of hundreds of planes, helicopters, 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 ( home.flightgear.org/flying) and it was recently updated to make flying smoother than ever.
18. Life-simulation game The Sims 4
Even if you don’t play video games, you are 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 latest version ( TheSims4) free to download on computers and consoles—it previously cost $25 and still does on Amazon.
There are two ways to download The Sims4 to your PC in 2023. The easiest is to install EA’s desktop app ( www. ea.com/ea-app), create a free account, and then find the game—it should be on the home screen under ‘Top games’. Click ‘Download’ to save TheSims4 to your hard drive—though note that it requires nearly 20GB of free space.
Alternatively, you can download it, and other free titles, by installing the Steam app ( store.steampowered.com). Although TheSims4 is now free, you need to pay for add-ons to get extra items and skills.