What Is Public Domain Content?

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What Is Public Domain Content?

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Introduction And Scope Of Public Domain Content

Public Domain consists of all inspired work and other information (Music, invention, artwork, writing, technology, etc.,) on which no one i.e. Person or Organization claims an ownership. Such information is considered to be part of Public’s inheritance and anyone can exploit them for their needs without any restriction.

Public Domain can be General information which includes facts, ideas, templates, etc. which could be used by anybody for their needs. Public domain may also be works that may be donated for Pubic Domain. Some of the works by Government also falls under Public Domain.

Copyright was designed to get a financial spur to the owner while works in public domain are present for the public to use them without any financial constraint. Copyrighted works fall under public domain once their copyright period is expired.

Not all the information available on the internet fall under Public domain contents. But all works published in US before 1923 are in the Public Domain.

The classic examples would be Shakespeare and Sherlock Holmes mysteries. Bookstores utilize the public domain by reprinting works that are public domain.

The public domain is a space where intellectual property protection does not apply. When copyrights and patents expire, innovations and creative works fall into the public domain.

They may then be used by anyone without permission and without the payment of a licensing fee. Publicly owned national parks are also considered by many to be public domain lands. Because of the extensions of the terms of both copyrights and patents, and the privatization of lands and other resources owned by the Federal Government, little is now entering the public domain.

Since the public domain is a treasure trove of information and resources to be used by future generations, many advocates are concerned that its stagnation will make it more difficult for future generations to find creative inspiration.

Copyleft is a way to make program free software and require those who distribute improved versions of it to make them free also.

The Copyleft principle is simple. When one programmer creates program, he has a copyright in that software. Legally, he has the power to control its use, redistribution, and modification. By releasing it under a copyleft license he makes the software available to the public in freedom, while requiring every released program that reuses his code to be free in the same way.

Copyleft encourages the user community to contribute to the improvement of the free software, by closing off the temptation to make those improvements proprietary. Meanwhile, companies are free to use, improve and redistribute the software, just like individuals.

The Five Minute Guide to “What is in the Public Domain?”

It is in some cases difficult to determine exactly what is in the public domain – this article makes it clear.

Just how exactly do you determine what is in the public domain?

I have come across this useful acronym to describe whether a work is in the public domain

If it in the FRIDGE – its in the public domain.

F is Facts
R is Recipes
I is Ideas
D is Dedicated Works
G is Government Works (U.S)
E is Expired Works

Any fact whether historical or present, scientific or biographical are Public Domain. News reports and news broadcasts are sometimes copyrighted but not the news itself so you can rewrite a news article in your own works and you are not breaking any copyrights as facts just cannot be copyrighted.

Some Facts related Public Domain resources:


Biographies, Histotical facts, science and more:

Selected historical transcripts, translations and facsimilies from Western Europe

Recipes actually come under facts. Same sort of thing though you will have to reorder the ingredients and rewrite the methods to avoid copyright complications. The annotations and pictures in a published cookbooks are copyrighted however the recipes themselves are not. Although not protected by copyright they can be protected to a certain degree by intellectual property laws so proceed with caution in you are unable to make recipe look like your own.

Here are some sites for food for thought:

Searches over 400,000 recipes by ingredient, recipe, dish, chef etc.
http://www.foodieview.com/index.jsp –

Recipes approved and provided by home cooks worldwide:

Another searchable database:

Ideas by themselves can not be copyrighted. If you apply an idea and can show something physical from it can be patented as long as they are novel or useful. But ideas themselves cannot be copyrighted so keep an eye out for an idea you like add a unique selling point of your own and copy away!

Some great idea sources are here:

A fantastic idea database

Places to find ideas article (written with article writers in mind but applies to anything you want to get ideas about):

Sometimes you will still statements on websites saying work are dedicated to the public domain. Also ebooks that are freely distributed are in public domain (they have conditions that you cannot change the wording but they are in public domain all the same). Look out for websites and ebooks that have words to this effect in “I grant this to the public domain”.

“I grant this to the public domain” sites:

http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/book-criteria.html – lots to explore on this one some great finds to be discovered

http://www.sxc.hu/ – copyright free photos

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page – “All of the information in Wikipedia is free for anyone to copy, modify for their own purposes, and redistribute or use as they see fit, as long as the new version grants the same freedoms to others and acknowledges the authors of the Wikipedia article used (a credit or backlink to the original article is sufficient for this).”

In the U.S works published by officials of the government are public domain. However when private contractors write government publications, the copyright can be retained. The government website have a whole load of information and images. If you looking for images a good tip is to search your subject in Google Images and limit to .gov sites .

This is likely to be the largest source for public domain government content. Google has indexed loads so you can find it.

All about the FBI!

Government resources made available to American public

Works that have expired are ones that have reached and gone beyond the limit of their copyright protection. This is not always easy to determine. You can safely assume everything before 1923 is public domain unless someone has renewed it.

To find out if it has been renewed you can go to The Library of Congress Copyright Office (http://www.copyright.gov/).

Or you can do a quick search on net to see what other people are doing with that particular work or search something along the lines of “Little Red Riding Hood + public domain”. One of those should get you your answer.

Expired works can be found on these sites:

Project Gutenberg – probaly one of the more famous sources for public domain material

Fantastic selection of links to a a variety of speciality public domain books

Increbible collection of public domain materials covering almost all religions

By reading through the above and taking a look at the resources given, you will be well on track to understanding how to determine what is in the public domain and hopefully be able to find a public domain works that you can republish, package and sell.

Please Sir, I Want Some More … Public Domain Material

Charles Dickens is said to be the world’s most prolific novelist, yet most of his works are relatively unknown to the general public, especially those he wrote under the pen name Boz. His most popular titles, Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, have been retold countless times in books, scripts, theatre plays and movies, and are all now in the public domain. These works have been so popular that they have been re-published by so many different publishers that they have never been out of print.

As a business owner looking to add new products to your inventory, whether that be online or offline, you can’t go past public domain material. At a cost of ‘nearly free,’ you would be mad to give it a miss.

As with the above example, some stories are timeless classics, classics that will sell year after year, in many different formats and versions. This may be exactly the right type of product for your business. There are so many public domain works out there that you essentially will never run out of material to publish. And you will most likely find many manuscripts that will complement your existing products.

A good rule of thumb to follow is to check that the original manuscript was published before 1923 in the United States of America (other countries may have different copyright laws so you may need to check this with a copyright lawyer). You should always get a certificate of copyright clearance for each public domain document you are going to publish. This may save you many legal hassles later if anyone tries to dispute your right to re-publish the work.

Public domain books and other materials can be found in many places, with the most likely being second-hand book stores. Some people enjoy this process the most; discovering that hidden gem amongst the thousands of tattered old Mills and Boon romance novels.

Though, with the advent of the Internet this process is becoming increasingly more accessible to everyone. There are now many web sites that publish public domain material that can be freely accessed, and even some membership sites that actually find the material for you.

If you make substantial changes to the material, that is, make enough changes that make the new version unrecognisable from the original, you may even claim the new copyright with yourself as the author.

As Dickens made popular the serialised novel, so too can you be publishing serial after serial of public domain material.

Free Money From The Public Domain!

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Public Domain For Profit (PDFP) gives you direct, searchable access to a wealth of books, articles, tools, tutorials, strategies, advice and information about Public Domain material.
For more information visit, Public Domain For Profit


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