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Copyright Basics: Public Domain Resources

Definition of Public Domain

Public Domain definition from Public Domain Sherpa

Put simply, the public domain consists of works that aren’t protected by copyright or by other legal means. You are free to use public domain works however you wish, without seeking permission, because ...

  • their copyrights have expired; or
  • the copyright owner didn’t follow certain required formalities (so they didn’t get a valid copyright); or
  • the works weren’t eligible for copyright in the first place; or
  • their creators dedicated them to the public domain.

Public Domain Resources