Answered By: Heather Brown
Last Updated: Aug 16, 2018     Views: 56

Works are in the "public domain" if they are:

  • not covered by Copyright protection
  • Copyright protection has expired, or
  • Copyright protection has been forfeited.

Generally the only materials in the public domain are materials produced before 1923 and materials produced by the United States Federal Government.  Materials produced by state or city government are not in the public domain.

Since the Berne Convention in 1978 anything in a fixed format is protected by copyright.  Kenneth Crews defines fixed format as  If you can see it, read it, watch it, or hear it – with or without the use of a computer, projector, or other machine, the work is likely eligible for copyright protection.”  (Crews, Kenneth (2000) Copyright essentials for librarians and educators.  Chicago, American Library Association, 2000.)

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