2023 is here and it’s worth noting that works from this 1927 are only now entering the public domain after almost a century. However, it’s important to understand that not all works are subject to copyright protection. In fact, there are many forms of intellectual property that are considered to be in the public domain from the moment of their creation.
In the United States, ideas, facts, and raw data are examples of material that can never be copyrighted. This is because they are considered to be part of the common cultural heritage and cannot be owned or controlled by a single individual or entity. Additionally, official works of the US government, such as legislation, regulations, legal opinions, hearings, and speeches, are also in the public domain and cannot be copyrighted.
This means that some truly incredible works are available for use by the public without restriction. For example, images from the James Webb Space Telescope, the NASA collections on The Commons (flickr) and the NASA Image and Video Library, the iconic “Earthrise” photograph taken by astronaut William Anders, and the Farm Security Administration – Office of War Information Photograph Collection (a pictorial record of American life from 1935-1944) are all considered to be public domain and are available for use without the need for permission or licensing.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that creators can choose to dedicate their works to the public domain, and many have done so using Creative Commons’ CC0 tool. This allows them to give up their exclusive rights to their work and make it available to the public for use and reuse.
In conclusion, the public domain is a powerful resource that can be used by individuals and organizations to create new works, preserve the cultural heritage, and promote free speech and the free exchange of ideas. By understanding the scope and limitations of the public domain, we can all benefit from the wealth of knowledge and creativity that it offers.