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What’s In The Public Domain : Geeks2020

What’s In The Public Domain

It’s generally understood that an item is copyrighted when it’s first committed to a permanent media. Thus a story is a story when told verbally, but it becomes something that can be copyrighted when written down, filmed or tape recorded.

The value of a copyright becomes greater — that is, gives the owner more protection — when there is a copyright notice. Even better, there is more protection when an item is registered with the Copyright Office, a part of the U.S. Library of Congress.

It often happens, however, that items which were once copyrighted lose their copyright protection. Typically this happens as a result of time, after so many years a copyright expires.

There are many different timelines for copyright protection. For a good overview of what is and is not in the public domain — and thus free for anyone to use — see Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States by Peter B. Hirtle at Cornell University.

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