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What is Public Domain?
Public Domain consist of works that are available to use without permission.
There are many reasons a work might be in the public domain. A few common reasons are:
Copyright Term has expired (see
Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States)
Work published before 1924 is considered public domain in the United States
The work was produced by a federal employee of U.S. government
The work was dedicated to the public domain
The work does not qualify for copyright protection (i.e. facts and ideas)
Common symbols for public domain works. Also look for works labeled as "no known copyright restrictions"
Places to Find Public Domain Content
The Public Domain Project
Searchable collection of public domain video, images, audio, and 3d models. Make sure "Public Domain Only" is checked off in your search filters.
Flickr: The Commons
Contains public domain images from various sources, including many libraries and organizations which digitize public domain content.
Wikipedia: Public Domain Images
Provides an extensive lists of sites for public domain images.
This site is intended for informational purposes only. Library staff members cannot give legal advice. For legal advice, you should contact an intellectual property attorney.
Meet with a Librarian (Copyright)
Meet with a research librarian to discuss a copyright question.
Attributing Public Domain Content
Remember: just because something is in the public domain doesn't mean you shouldn't cite it. Always give proper credit to your source!
Questions? Need help?
Davidson College Library, Box 7200, 209 Ridge Rd., Davidson, NC 28035-7200
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