I am currently trying to get my head around the various Laws and Regulations, surrounding Copyright and Public Domain, when it comes to Literature.

My initial question opens the discussion, where one responses is:

Also, if a work has entered the public domain in its place of first publication, it is in the public domain everywhere.

What exactly in meant by place of first publication? Are we talking about the date and place of publication of a First Edition or some other form of publication such as with a Copyright organisation?

2 Answers 2


This refers to the place where a given edition is first-in-time published. The first edition might be first published in 1965 in France, and subsequently in Belgium in 1969, US in 1971; the second edition might be first published in the US is 1976 and in Germany in 1980. The place of the first publication of the first edition is France, and the place of the first publication of the second edition is the US. Whether or not the second edition enjoys any copyright protection beyond the first edition depends on what the difference between the works is (e.g. correcting a dozen typos does not create a new work and new copyright protections).

I don't know what you mean by a copyright organization. If you are referring to the US copyright clearance center, they don't publish. If you are talking about the US Copyright office, they only register, they do not publish (and copyright protection exists even when a work is not registered). So publishing would refer to what the actual publisher did.


The place of first publication of a work is the place where that work is first published. if a work is published commercially, that place is generally the location of the publisher. For copyright purposes, only the country matters, the exact location within the country is not important.

(A later edition may or may not be a separate (derivative) work, with its own copyright term.)

Also, the statement that "if a work has entered the public domain in its place of first publication, it is in the public domain everywhere." is simply incorrect. There are, for example, cases where a work is under copyright in the US, even though it fell into the public domain in the country where it was first published. If a work first published outside the before 1964 US entered the public domain in the US because the US copyright was not properly renewed, but the copyright was restored under the Uruguay Round Agreements Act, the restored US copyright has the full length of the US copyright term (95 years from first publication for works published prior to 1978), even if the 'home' country grants a shorter term of protection. In general, the US does not follow the "rule of the shorter term" and US copyright terms depend on US law, no matter if the home country grants copyright for a shorter period.

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