Public domain works are not protected by copyright. These covers works whose authors have been deceased for 70 years or longer.

Recycling existing material may be a highly cost-effective commercial approach, and it has undoubtedly been the concept behind many of Hollywood’s box office blockbusters. Using pre-existing material to bring attention to campaigns, performances, and events may be a huge time savings for corporations, educational institutions, and charities. If you want to utilize a lot of the original material, you’ll need to identify content that is in the public domain, content that you can gain permission to use, content that is based on facts (which cannot be copyrighted), or content that you can use in a manner that is considered “fair use.”

Allowable Usage

Obtaining permission from the original author is, of course, always preferred (you can use a Copyright Request Letter). Permission from the author often confers the greatest rights and freedoms, and it also precludes future litigation. Even if the original author says no, you may be entitled to use portions of the material under fair use. A fair use is a restricted use of a copyrighted material. It may be used for both instructional and analytical purposes, as well as for reviews and analyses. In some circumstances, you cite the work, noting its source appropriately, in order to examine, critique, or review it.

There is no limit to how much material may be cited as part of fair usage. Fair use is determined in part by the length of the material being cited. You may, for example, take a few words from a book as long as you offer a clear reference of the source. Lyrics from songs, on the other hand, are frequently ineligible for fair use since they are too short. If a composer requests that you refrain from utilizing words from his or her song, even if it’s only one phrase that is obviously part of the song, you must comply. There are, however, exceptions. It is permissible for you to utilize lyrics from a song, for example, if your goal is to create a parody or satire of the music.

Fair use does not imply the loss of the creator’s rights. It would constitute plagiarism to claim the work as your own. At all instances, credit must be provided. Educational institutions are afforded the most extensive safeguards. Although they cannot use the whole work without the author’s permission or pay, they may utilize more material than other organizations or people. But keep in mind that what constitutes fair use varies from case to case, so proceed with caution, especially if the work’s author has clearly requested that you not utilize his or her work. Remember that fair use is not the same as substantial use. It should just be adequate to convey a point, not present a comprehensive summary of the content.

The Public Domain

Public domain works, on the other hand, are creative works that are not protected by copyright. These contains works that have been around long enough that either its authors have died or the copyright protections have expired for that amount of time. It also includes works created by the government, which does not own the rights to their creation. When enough time has elapsed since the creation of a work, it enters the public domain. If a work is in the public domain, acknowledgement to the original artist must still be required, but the work may be used or even sold by anybody. For example, if you wish to utilize a Shakespeare line in your organization’s advertising materials, you will not need to ask permission. You may also utilize official statistics without authorization. To supplement their offers, several booksellers print full works that are in the public domain.

The public domain does not completely destroy the rights of the original inventor. Attributions must always be provided, however the original works may be extensively altered. After Pride and Prejudice was made public, hundreds of variants arose, including Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Pride and Prejudice Pirates, and others. Although Jane Austen may not have approved of these changes, it makes no difference from a legal standpoint. Her estate cannot file charges against the writers since the works are now and will stay in the public domain.

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