Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Public Domain?

When surfing the World Wide Web, it is easy to copy pictures, graphics, HTML codes, or original writings. Many individuals believe that anything found on the Internet falls under the category of public domain and can be taken without permissions from the author/creator/owner. After all, if the information wasn't public domain, why would browser's allow us to select "file save as?" To help understand why media and information on the Internet is not public domain think about your driveway. Your driveway isn't technically located inside your home, so does that mean anyone can come onto your driveway and do what they want making it public domain? NO! Just because your driveway is visible from the street and can be easily accessed by many individuals, its mere location does not make it public domain.

Consequently, the same idea applies to material published on the Internet. Material on Internet can only be copied freely if the information meets one of the following:

1-Information is created by the federal government.
2-Copyright has expired.
3-Copyright has been abandoned by the holder.

As a result, information on the Internet cannot automatically be deemed as public domain. The only way that it receives this classification is if it meets one of the above criteria listed above.

With this in mind, think about the types of information, pictures, graphics, writings, or HTML codes that you have copied or saved from the Internet in the past. Can you think of an instance when what you copied or saved actually met one of the listed criteria? Share your thoughts about materials on the Internet and public domain.


What is copyright protection? (2007). Retrieved September 29, 2008, from http://www.whatiscopyright.org/


J. Urick said...

I think my previous question was answered by your citation on this post, ha. Anyway, I haven't even really thought about things I have used in the past. I have been copying MANY things for my upcoming wedding off the of the web and now I must go back and check...interesting info!

Erica said...

Wow Jamie! You have so many postings and great information!

I really like that you compared the information about the public domain to someone's driveway. That really helped me understand what you were trying to convey.

I'm not sure about an instance when I copy or pasted something that met the criteria, but I know that from now on I'm going to watch more closely what I'm doing when copying and pasting. How is a user supposed to know when a copyright has been abandoned or expired?

Jamie A. Lewis said...


I'll attempt to give you an answer based on the research I have thus far.

How long does copyright last?

-Works created on or after Jan 1978life of author + 70
-Work for hire 95 years

Basically you will need to do extensive research to find out the status of the copyright. Two sites that may be helpful will be included here:


This website will help determine the status of a copyright.


This website will help with the status of things registered before 1978.

I hope this helps!

LeeAnn said...

Oh my! I never even considered those 3 things when I was copying and pasting from the internet. Wow! It really makes me think of how much stuff I've used that maybe I shouldn't have.