The public domain is the collection of expressive works for which no one owns the copyright. Works enter the public domain:
Works in the public domain are free for anyone to use, distribute, copy, perform, build upon, change, or anything else and for any purpose that they wish. No copyright permission is required. However, it is important to understand that no one person can own an item in the public domain. It is owned by the public.
With that said, there could be other issues that arise including trademark, privacy, patent, and other issues. It is important to consider these other possible issues. Also, it important to understand that any new derivative work, other creative work based on an item in the public domain, or a collection of public domain items may be protected by copyright. For example, translating a public domain book into another language may be covered by copyright. Only the original item in the public domain will be free from any copyrights.
Finally, it is important to know that the public domain is different from country to country. What might be in the public domain in one country may not be in the public domain of another country.
There are lots of items that are not protected by US Copyright Laws. Examples include the following:
Locating items in the public domain is not always easy. We recommend the following websites:
Audio & Music
The information presented in this guide is intended for informational and educational purposes only. It is not offered as legal advice or counsel. Faculty, staff, students, and others associated with the college should consult an attorney for advice concerning their individual copyright situations and needs.