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Say I wanted to use a painting from the public domain for a book cover. Is it necessary to apply any sort of "public domain mark"? If so, does it need to appear in a particular place (e.g., the cover itself vs. a copyright page)?

The reason I'm attempting to do so is because commons.wikimedia.org has stated that one 'must also include a United States public domain tag to indicate why this work is in the public domain in the United States.'

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  • Can you give a link to the Wikimedia Commons page where you saw this? I very much doubt there is any legal requirement for such a mark; the whole point of public domain is that there are no legal restrictions or conditions on how you can copy it. I suspect you may be looking at something that's just a policy for the Wikimedia Commons website itself, saying how they want to label material on their site; but it wouldn't apply to uses of the material anywhere else. Commented Aug 27, 2020 at 4:02

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If a work is in the public domain, then there are no particular requirements on its use; in particular, it can be used on a book cover without a copyright notice, a public domain notice, or any other kind of notice or mark.

Wikimedia Commons' public domain template says, "You must also include a United States public domain tag to indicate why this work is in the public domain in the United States." This is a notice to users of Wikimedia Commons, informing them that if they upload a public domain image to Wikimedia Commons, they must include a public domain tag. That's a policy of Wikimedia Commons. It doesn't apply to people using the image outside of Wikimedia.

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