The term “public domain” refers to creative materials that are not protected by intellectual property laws such as copyright, trademark, or patent laws. The public owns these works, not an individual author or artist. Anyone can use a public domain work without obtaining permission, but no one can ever own it.
Public Domain Material and Copyright Laws
Excerpts of article titled, "New Rules For Using Public Domain Materials", by Attorney Lloyd J. Jassin
Copyright protection does not last forever. That is why copyright is often called a "limited monopoly.” When copyrights grow old and die, the works they protect fall into the public domain. Subject to certain exceptions, public domain works may be freely copied or used in the creation of derivative works without permission, or authorization, of the former copyright owners.
In addition to works no longer protected by copyright, the public domain also includes works that are in the public domain for failure to include a proper copyright notice. Prior to March 1, 1989, notice of copyright (e.g., © 1941 by Irving Berlin) was required on all published works. If the notice was omitted, or appeared in the wrong form or location, the work was put into the public domain. Be aware that if the copyright notice was omitted on copies of works published between January 1, 1978 and March 1, 1989, copyright was not automatically lost if certain measures were taken to cure the oversight.
Besides "expired" copyrights, and works lacking proper notice, the following categories of works are also not eligible for copyright protection: (i) U.S. Government works, (ii) state judicial opinions, (iii) legislative enactments, and other official documents, (iv) unadorned ideas and facts, (v) blank forms, (vi) short phrases, (vii) names, titles and slogans, (viii) extemporaneous speeches, and (ix) standard plots and stock characters.
Determining Whether a Work is in the Public Domain
Knowing when a copyright expires will allow you to take advantage of the abundance of material found in the public domain. Therefore, it is helpful to have a basic understanding of copyright law.
One helpful rule-of-thumb is that all works published in the United States before 1923 are in the public domain in the United States. In addition to pre-1923 works, there are also millions of other works that have fallen into the public domain for either (a) failure to renew; or (b) failure to affix a proper notice.
In the United States, the length of copyright protection a work receives depends upon when it was created. Check your countries copyright laws, as it varies from country to country.
This article discusses general legal issues of interest and is not designed to give any specific legal advice pertaining to any specific circumstances. It is important that professional legal advice be obtained before acting upon any of the information contained in this article.
Bible Study Guides that are relevant, engaging and life-changing —- making your life better now, and giving you a real, solid hope for your future. Use these study guides to improve your understanding of the Bible and strengthen your faith Each Bible reading plan is different in type and length. They are as varied as each individual so you have many to choose from. Consider the following options, but remember to choose one. Regular reading in God's Word is not optional. It's a necessity!
Request any of our free Study Guides here.
- God’s Simple Plan of Salvation – Searching for Answers – 3 week guide here.
- New Christian Study Guide – New To Christianity – 3 week study guide here.
- Steps to Spiritual Maturity Guide – Nurturing Resources – 3 week guide here.
- The Gospel of John – Knowing God Better – Personal book study - 3 weeks here.
- Inspirational Daily Devotionals – Encouraging Spiritual Reflections – daily here.
- Monthly Newsletter – Christ Centered Information – once a month here.
- Personal Evangelism Training – Share the Gospel – fun creative way here.
- Bible Studies – Instructive Resources – connecting you nearer to God here.
If you are looking for a Bible we have a list of excellent Bibles that you can order online depending in what country you live in for under $15.00 USD here.
The scriptures are perfect, but men are fallible. I prayerfully check all of the material I put on my sites. However, I am quite capable of missing something or making a mistake. If you find anything at all on these pages that is questionable or find any links broken please contact us here.