Public Domain

Copyright protection gives the creator exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, publically display/perform/broadcast the work, and the exclusive right to make derivative works. The creator can choose to allow certain uses by the public, such as through a Creative Commons license, and may even donate the work to the “public domain.” The public domain is the legal term for works that are available without copyright restriction. Key types of public domain works are:

  1. Works created by the U.S. government
  2. Works for which copyright protection has lapsed, including materials published in the U.S. before 1929 and materials published in the U.S. without a copyright notice between 1929 and 1989 (Note: the references to 1929 are effective for 2024 and will increase by an additional year each year after 2024.)
  3. Works expressly donated to the public domain.