23 votes
Accepted

What is the copyright status of a journal article written more than 70 years ago?

The article is public domain. The pictures aren’t If this was first published in the British Empire (as it then was), then The UK is the place of first publication. What follows is its status under UK ...
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  • 152k
21 votes
Accepted

Is the U.S. Code copyrighted by the Government?

US Laws are Free of Copyright Federal Works 17 USC 105 says: Copyright protection under this title is not available for any work of the United States Government, but the United States Government ...
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21 votes
Accepted

Are works created by US government employees in the performance of their duties treated as public domain outside the US?

There are several official and unofficial sources that say that the public domain status of works of the US Federal Government only applies within the US. Specifically: "Government Works" on ...
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11 votes
Accepted

How can NaxosofAmerica claim copyright for classical music in Youtube?

I know that classical music is public domain, so no-one can claim that they own classical music. That's not quite right, at least not under US law. First off, "classical music" is a style, and music ...
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  • 20.8k
9 votes

Is the Scarborough Fair Melody Really in the Public Domain?

Yes Both melody and lyrics source back to the middle ages, as for instance described here. The difficulty could be to make sure you rely your derived work on a variant that is really in the public ...
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  • 959
8 votes

Can a library forbid me to make copies of un-copyrighted material?

More generally, the university gets to set whatever rules it wants, unless there is a law limiting what it can do. For example, in the US a government university (qua arm of government) cannot require ...
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  • 160k
8 votes
Accepted

Does public domain give me the right to take old work out of context, such as claimed in this SMBC comic?

Yes it does. You can do anything at all with a public domain work, and it is not an infringement of copyright. For the matter of that, one could write a forwards attributes to Justinian or Genghis ...
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7 votes
Accepted

Does the WTFPL legally disclaim warranties?

Short answer? No, the WTFPL offers no protection. A software license is a contract between the software vendor and the end user defining the terms and conditions under which the end user is permitted ...
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  • 5,587
7 votes
Accepted

Can I release all my copyrighted works into the public domain upon my death?

Under US copyright law, all works are protected by copyright except for US Government works. The concept of "public domain" is not legally well-defined, and is used colloquially to refer to government ...
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  • 160k
7 votes

Are "slavish copies" of public domain work in the public domain?

German perspective: In German law, there is the concept of Schöpfungshöhe (threshold of originality), which is required for authorship rights (Urheberrecht) to apply to a work. Basically, the idea ...
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  • 6,393
7 votes

Are "slavish copies" of public domain work in the public domain?

Bridgeman Art is only binding in New York's Southern District, but the reasoning from its line of cases has been adopted by the Seventh Circuit and Tenth Circuit, and by district courts in California ...
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  • 44.4k
7 votes
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Licensing an idea to public?

You are correct that it is quite expensive to patent something in U.S. law. Under U.S. patent law, once an idea is publicly published, if no one else has a patent application for the same idea that ...
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  • 134k
7 votes

Does copyright apply to Stack Exchange answers and comments?

Stack Exchange questions are not public domain, they are protected by copyright. Authors have granted a license under Subscriber Content, specifically content is perpetually and irrevocably licensed ...
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  • 160k
6 votes
Accepted

Are there any restrictions on "Open Access" material?

Is an article licensed under an Open Access license equivalent to a public domain work? No. Intellectual property practitioners and professors often describe copyright as "a bundle of sticks." This ...
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  • 5,587
6 votes
Accepted

Legal distribute a book by Isaac Asimov

As the quote in your question notes (albeit in contrapositive form), Asimov's fiction may be made legally available for free download on the net with the permission of his estate. It is either that ...
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  • 3,199
6 votes

Why don't publishers release journal articles whose copyright have expired into Public Domain?

You misunderstand the nature of copyright. Holding copyright allows you to decide how the work can be copied: there is no obligation on you to publish it if you don't want to. After your copyright ...
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  • 152k
6 votes
Accepted

Is it safe to use public domain images of Wikipedia for commercial purposes (like printing on a product)?

No, it is certainly not legally safe to sell a shirt with such an image printed on it. There are two compatible facts to consider: Wikipedia is correct that the image is not covered by copyright in ...
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  • 3,199
6 votes
Accepted

Is there any way in which a plain electronic copy of a public domain document is copyrightable?

Not in US law, at least. Under the 1999 decision Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp (36 F. Supp. 2d 191) such images are not protected by copyright. As the Wikipedia article says, the court here ...
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6 votes
Accepted

Could I write a new Frankenstein book since it's public domain?

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is indeed public domain so you are free to use that character. However, a lot of what we think of as "Frankenstein" is not Mary Shelly, for example, the iconic ...
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  • 152k
6 votes

What happens if you create something (e.g. a book/game/show) which includes copyrighted content, then release it into the public domain?

Copyrights, in general, relate to the right of copying or reproduction. Another’s copyright may be substantially violated and causing harm even if one doesn’t monetize on it: A free access to the work ...
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  • 2,630
6 votes
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Can we be sued for using a meme for naming our company?

A phrase which is too generic or in too wide currnt use to be a valid trademark, may nevertheless be used as a business name or slogan. For example "Good Pizza" is so generic that I am ...
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5 votes

Can a provider of content restrict use of the content when they have no intellectual property rights to it?

In a hypothetical case like you are describing, you could make a contract with them regarding the duplication of the content, irrespective of copyright law. Their violation of that contract would not ...
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  • 2,334
5 votes

Copyright status of restored works

I would argue that no, there is no copyright for the restored work. Independent copyright is only possible for any original material added, as previously discussed on this site. In this case, the ...
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  • 4,383
5 votes

Are national flags in the public domain?

Prima facie all flags would be artistic works with copyright vesting in their creators; either the designer or the designer's employer. The copyright is probably owned by the government of the ...
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  • 152k
5 votes
Accepted

How can a database derived from copyrighted works be public domain?

At least in the United States (and I'm pretty sure this is true around the world), facts and information cannot be copyrighted. Just because a work is copyrighted, doesn't mean every part of that work ...
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  • 20.8k
5 votes

Can HTML formatting be copyrighted?

Unless there is something special in Pakistani case law on this topic, it would pass the originality requirement. In my opinion, it is actually very well laid out, and it is clearly not just slapping ...
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  • 160k
5 votes

If Van Gogh is in Public Domain, why there are restrictions in the Van Gogh museum?

There isn’t a legal restriction Which is to say they could show replica’s if they wanted to; they just don’t want to. This is fairly typical - art museums display art, not reproductions of art. They ...
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  • 152k
5 votes
Accepted

Is it possible to enter a work into public domain by transfering copyright to a dead person?

It doesn't work, just like transferring the copyright to a young person to make it last longer doesn't work. In places where the length of copyright depends on the death of someone, it always ...
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  • 25.4k
5 votes
Accepted

Copyright of children's folklore songs

The burden rests on A to determine that the work is not protected by copyright, and there is no fool-proof registry where you can look up a particular work. One form of proof would be finding a copy ...
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  • 160k
5 votes

When will Flash copyright expire?

Adobe Inc is a Delaware incorporated corporation, so we should look at United States copyright law. We can assume that all source code written for Macromedia Flash were works for hire and thus the ...
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