Public Domain

The public domain comprises all those works that are either no longer protected by copyright or never were.

Works in the public domain aren’t protected by copyright, so you can use them freely.

Public Domain Facts

  • Because there are so many nuances with copyright terms and when works enter the public domain, we recommend you view the Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States matrix from the Cornell Copyright Information Center for details.
  • Works in the public domain include those first published in the United States prior to 1923, and those published between 1923 and 1978 on which copyright registrations were not renewed.
  • Materials created since 1989 (other than those created by the U.S. federal government) are probably protected by copyright.
  • There is a low likelihood that materials of greatest interest are in the public domain.

See sources of usable Public Domain works in Locate Usable Works

Research in-depth information from other external sources in Resources