When copyright protection expires, the work enters the public domain. This means anyone can freely use it without seeking permission or paying a fee. Since U. S. and international copyright laws defining the time period of copyright protection have been revised several times, it is often difficult to accurately determine when a specific item has entered the public domain. The following resources will assist in determining the copyright status of a work:
- Copyright Term and Public Domain in the United States : Chart to determine if a work is in the public domain, created by Peter Hirtle, Cornell University Libraries
- Is It Protected by Copyright? : Tool to determine copyright status, created by Micheal Brewer, ALA Office of Information Technology Policy
- List of Countries’ Copyright Lengths, Wikipedia : List of countries and their copyright terms—the lengths in years—and when a work’s copyright term ends—passes into the public domain
- Copyright Renewable Databases (Books only) : A searchable database of the copyrighted renewable records received by the U.S. Copyright Office from 1950 to 1992 and for books published in the U.S. from 1923 to 1963
- How to Investigate the Copyright Status of a Work, U.S. Copyright Office Circular 22
- Copyright Research from Stanford University Libraries
- Copyright Catalog (1978 to present) . U.S. Copyright Office Public Catalog
REVIEW THE RULES BEFORE YOU USE.
Navigating trademarked and copyrighted materials can be tricky. That’s why we’ve created our Intellectual Property Guide, to help you cover your media use bases.