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Open Movement

What is the Public Domain?

"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.

There are four common ways that works arrive in the public domain:

  • the copyright has expired
  • the copyright owner failed to follow copyright renewal rules
  • the copyright owner deliberately places it in the public domain, known as “dedication,” or
  • copyright law does not protect this type of work." [source]

Is this work in the Public Domain?

Not sure if a work is in the public domain? Use the flowchart linked below to do a quick analysis.


Examples of Works in the Public Domain

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald [Novel]

The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci [Painting]

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen [Novel]

The Kiss by Gustav Klimt [Painting]