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Work at Home Moms > Using Public Domain Works > Copyright Public Domain

Copyright Public Domain

How do you know if you can copyright public domain? This is a big question. The following article will help you understand all the legal reasoning behind public domain to know where you can use copyright or not. 

Understanding legal aspects of Public Domain Content

A work can be considered Public Domain Content if that work is not owned by any private party or no intellectual rights exists on the work. This may happen because the owner has given up the rights of ownership or the copyright or patent of that work has expired. In simple terms we “the public” can exploit any Public Domain Content by copying, publishing and changing the same for our benefits without taking prior permission from the owner of the work.

One should never presume that a work is in the “Public Domain” unless a methodical analysis has been done regarding the work. Most of the creative works or ideas are protected by Copyrights, Patents, Trademarks and Trade Secrets.

Copyrights, it gives the owner the rights to control the reproduction of his work.

Copyrights expire in all the countries except Mexico, Samoa, Guatemala & Columbia when the following conditions are satisfied:

Copyrights of any work that was created and published before January 1, 1923 expired after January 1, 1988. Work that was created and published after December 31, 1922 is protected by copyrights law for at least 95 years before January 1 of the current year.
The last surviving creator of the work has died at least 70 years before January 1 of the current year
The work is not permanently copyrighted by Berne Convention.
As per the law certain type of works and inventions can not be monopolize. This comes in public domain immediately upon publication.

Patents, it gives the owner a right to prevent third parties from using any idea or invention. In most of the countries patents expire after 20 years from the date of filing.

Trademarks, it can be a name, phrase or mark which is associated with a particular product. Trademarks expire as soon as a mark becomes a common term.

Trade secrets, these are resources that are kept as secret by any organization. People who have access to this information are asked by the organization to sign a contract wherein these people are not supposed to disclose the information to any other company or any individual.

Violation of any of the above will definitely attract huge penalties depending on the loss suffered by the creator of the work. A work that is not protected by the above mentioned laws falls under “Public Domain”. One must consider consulting a lawyer or a public domain consultant before editing or republishing any Public Domain content. Several other laws like accounting laws, safety & export laws are also applicable to certain work and a professional lawyer can make it certain that the one who intends to republish a creation is not inviting any legal troubles.

 

 

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