Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Public Domain: What it is and what it's not
The term "public domain" encompasses materials for which:
- The copyright has expired;
- The copyright owner has intentionally and explicitly"dedicated" it to the public domain;
- The copyright owner did not follow copyright renewal rules; or
- Copyright law does not protect (such as works created by U.S. Government employees during the course of their employment, and works that cannot by copyrighted (such as ideas, common knowledge, data points etc.))
Public domain is different than "publicly accessible" or "free online." READ MORE ABOUT THE PUBLIC DOMAIN HERE.
Is it in the Public Domain (in the United States)?
A Selection of Public Domain Resources - Online
Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) Primary Source Sets
Primary Source Sets are public domain materials curated to help students develop critical thinking skills by exploring topics in history, literature, and culture through primary sources. Drawing online materials from libraries, archives, and museums across the United States, the sets use letters, photographs, posters, oral histories, video clips, sheet music, and more. Each set includes a topic overview, ten to fifteen primary sources, links to related resources, and a teaching guide. These sets were created and reviewed by the teachers on the DPLA's Education Advisory Committee. Read about DPLA's education projects and contact DPLA with feedback at email@example.com
A Guide to Finding Interesting Public Domain Works Online
From the Public Domain Review and Public Knowledge Project.
30 Public Domain Image Websites
Note: Check the terms of each image before assuming that it is in the Public Domain.
Finding Public Domain Resources
The Public Domain: How to Find & Use Copyright-Free Writings, Music, Art & More by
Call Number: Newman Library: KF3022 .F575 2010
Publication Date: 2010-05-07
Even though gradeschool teachers have told us otherwise for years, writers and artists can copy other people's work and get away with it. How? By dipping into the public domain, where everything is free for the taking. The Public Domain is the definitive guide to the creative works that are not protected by copyright and can be copied freely or otherwise used without paying permission fees. The book explains stepbystep how to recognize when a work is in the public domain. Chapters cover: writings, music, art, architecture, maps, choreography, photography, film and video, computer software and databases.The book also lists hundreds of resources, such as websites, libraries and archives, useful for locating public domain works. Destined to become a classic reference guide, The Public Domain is indispensable for anyone who deals with creative works, including publishers, web developers, writers, musicians and composers, artists, librarians, photographers and filmmakers.
CC0 vs. Creative Commons "Public Domain" mark
CC0: "No rights reserved"
CC PD: "No known copyright"