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Public Domain

What is Public Domain?

The public domain refers to a work of authorship that is not protected by copyright. A work in the public domain can be reproduced, distributed, performed, displayed, or made into derivative works without the permission of the copyright holder(s).

A work is considered in the public domain if:

If none of these four factors apply, it should be assumed that the work is protected by copyright.

What Works are in the Public Domain?

Determining copyright terms is often difficult. Typically, if the copyright has expired or has not been renewed, the work is considered in the public domain. The following guidelines are a good starting point for making this determination:

  • The work was published prior to 1923.
  • The work was published between 1923 and 1963 without a copyright notice.
  • The work was published between 1923 and 1963 with a copyright notice but the copyright was not renewed.
More Resources:

Web Resources (Public Domain)


The information presented in this guide is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have specific legal questions, please contact the DCCCD General Counsel.

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