What is a ‘public domain’?
A public domain is an area of intellectual property protected by copyright laws.
This is the area of literature that is free of copyright restrictions and that can be freely copied and distributed.
If you are wondering what is a “public domain”, there are three categories: Original Works , Creative Works , and Public Domain .
There are also multiple definitions for the word “public”, so we have created a table below to help you identify the terms.
The table includes definitions for a number of common terms that are commonly used in copyright law.
Original Works The term “original works” refers to works that are created by a person or entity other than the copyright owner.
A work is an original work if it is not a derivative work or a compilations of other works.
Examples of works that fall into this category include novels, poetry, play, or musical compositions.
Original works can also include works created by others and are known as literary works.
Creative Works The terms “creative works” and “public works” refer to works created for the public or the benefit of the public, but may not include works that the copyright holder owns outright or that are protected under a written or implied license.
Examples include musical compositions, films, or television series.
Public Domain Works The words “public” and the term “property” are used interchangeably in the United States and elsewhere to refer to the works protected by the Copyright Act.
They refer to property owned by a government or a private person.
Examples that are not covered by copyright include paintings, sculptures, architectural works, or other works that were not created for a specific purpose.
For example, if someone owns a collection of watercolors and you wish to publish them, it is likely that you will be able to do so.
Original and Creative Works Rights in original works and creative works are owned by the copyright owners, who are called the authors.
Creative works are not copyrightable and therefore can only be copied and/or distributed by the owner of the copyright.
A person can make a copy of an original or a copy made for a public purpose.
Examples are photographs, music, paintings, and drawings.
The works of a person who owns a creative work or works may be subject to copyright protection.
A “public performance” means a performance that is made without the consent of the performer or audience.
Examples could be a performance in a public place or at a public event without permission.
Public domain works are those works that have been placed in the public domain or no longer need to be protected under copyright laws because they no longer pose a threat to the interests of the people who created them.
Some of the most commonly referenced works are works that came from a variety of sources, such as: art collections