Copyright Policy and Resource Guide Public Domain

How do I determine if a work has entered the public domain?

Public Domain works are those that fall into any of the following three categories:

  1. Publications dated 1922 or earlier.
  2. Works that do not include a copyright notice and were first published before January 1, 1978.
  3. Most United States government documents.

Once a work has acquired public domain status it is no longer eligible for copyright protection. Use of material of this status is permissible without the copyright owner's permission.