Skip to Main Content

Copyright Crash Course

A quick guide to everything you have ever wanted to know about Copyright

Public Domain

Public Domain

What is the Public Domain?

The Public Domain refers to all materials that are not protected by copyright and are free to use, remix, adapt and change any way you wish without worry. Works join the public domain in multiple ways, such as: 

  • Copyright term has expired (see Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States for a helpful chart of copyright expiration dates)
  • The creator(s) failed to comply with copyright requirements at the time of publication or renewal
  • Copyright never existed (ex: facts, short phrases, ideas, U.S. federal government documents*) 
  • The copyright owner(s) has dedicated the work to the public domain

What types of resources are in the Public Domain?

The Public Domain is not limited to one type of material and is anything that is created including books, videos, pictures/photographs, audio recordings and more. See the listings below for some ideas. 

Public Domain Text Resources

Public Domain Picture Resources

Public Domain Video Resources