The key is to strike the right balance between the freedom that the public space offers and the incentives that exclusive rights provide. Copyright protects original works and authorship, while patent law protects inventions and discoveries. The intellectual property system therefore needs an incentive that offers both freedom and an exclusive right. The public domain includes all materials that are not protected by intellectual property rights, including copyright and patents. If a work is not protected by copyright or has expired under copyright law, it is deemed to be in the public domain. Public works can be quoted extensively and serve as a basis for new creative works. Most of this website focuses on copyright, with Public Domain Day celebrating the moment when copyright expires and citizens are free to use creative works. Public domain material is free of centralized control over legal matters and may be used without authorization. Public domain materials may be unprotected intellectual property rights because they are subject to the same rights and protections as any other material in the public domain. You may also copy, place and distribute courses, courses and websites without permission or against payment of royalties. We had hoped that this would be available to all, but unfortunately it will not happen due to a lack of resources in the public sector. Merriam - Webster Dictionary defines the public domain as "an area that includes property rights that belong to the community in general, that are open to anyone and are not protected by copyright or patents, but are protected by property rights. One category would include copyrights and patent clauses that have expired or are subject to intellectual property law. Conversely, many copyrighted works can be available online for free or free of charge, but as they are copyrighted, permission is required to translate, sell, adapt or otherwise copyright them. Creative works published in the United States since 1923, as well as documents produced by the U.S. government, the U.S. government, or the federal government, are among the most widely used materials in the public domain. For more information on the types of works that are protected by copyright, please visit our Copyright Base page. Note also that most reproductions do not allow the person who has performed the reproduction to claim a new copyright; the creator of the digital image or the reproduction of an image owns the new copyright in the resulting digital images. The Commons accepts materials that are in the public domain but are not protected by copyright after the expiry of copyright. Public domain is complicated: copyright laws vary from country to country, and therefore a work can be public in one country and still be protected by copyright in another. There are minimum standards set by international treaties such as the Berne Convention, but individual countries are free to go beyond these minimum standards. To learn more about how to make copyright decisions in connection with permission in the public domain, read our Copyright Management Certificate Program. Public Domain has been discussed in more detail on the Commons Public Domain Policy page and on our Public Domain Policy page. However, it is often used to refer to content that is not protected by copyright, such as books, films, music and other works of art. Anyone can use a public work without permission, but no one can ever own it. Works that are in public ownership may only be used if permission is obtained and the author is compensated. One important downer to understand about public domain material is that while some works belong to the public, a collection of public domain works can be protected by copyright. For example, if someone collects all the images from the public domain in a book or on a website, the collection as a whole can be protected, even if the individual images are not protected. In the United States, the following copyright changes are most important for Public Domain Day. The Creative Commons License is used to grant the public a number of freedoms so that they can be shared and used commercially by others. A collection of public domain materials is protected if the person who created them uses creativity in the selection and organization. In the United States, the duration of copyright is the life of an author plus another 70 years. Before 1978, copyright rules had to be renewed every 28 years, and every four years since 1978. And then every five years for a total of 100 years in the USA. This tool allows anyone to waive their copyright and place a work in the global public domain immediately before the expiry of copyright. So every work published since 1923, and not just the first edition of a book, is public. If the author has filed it there before the expiry of copyright, the work will enter the public domain at that point.