Definition of public domain in US English:

public domain


  • The state of belonging or being available to the public as a whole, and therefore not subject to copyright.

    ‘the photograph had been in the public domain for 15 years’
    as modifier ‘public-domain software’
    • ‘The once rich public domain is almost a memory as copyright on new creations is commonly held for periods in excess of 140 years total.’
    • ‘Gone are the crackles, pops, and extreme hiss that have marred earlier public domain releases.’
    • ‘Women's power enacted in the public domain constitutes the subject of several chapters.’
    • ‘Though the Spanish data are also public domain information, accessing the Spanish data has proven to be more of a challenge.’
    • ‘Regardless of Crown ownership and public domain, the Government has the right to regulate and the sovereignty of Parliament is assured.’
    • ‘They have been giving away public domain books available on the internet.’
    • ‘The idea is to turn what was previously public domain into private domain, at a symbolic level.’
    • ‘These are often limited to public domain games like Chess or Backgammon, and the most common proprietary games such as Scrabble or Monopoly.’
    • ‘Most research begins in government-funded studies; the findings of which become public domain.’
    • ‘But then, just as Wells's work was about to enter the public domain, the British copyright period was extended to 70 years after the author's death.’
    • ‘Older material is luckily public domain, and hence legally safer to digitally preserve, enhance, and disseminate.’
    • ‘Purchasing DVD versions of public domain films can be a tricky business - definitely a buyer beware situation, if there ever was one.’
    • ‘The music is masked by a gentle rain of pops and hisses, but that's the nature of the game with public domain footage.’
    • ‘If some work becomes famous enough, it becomes part of the public domain, and loses copyright protection.’
    • ‘Once you've sent me your design, it becomes public domain - owned by nobody and freely available to all.’
    • ‘That system was first shown in 1967 but the patent lapsed and the technology became public domain.’
    • ‘You look for as much public domain content as you can get.’
    • ‘Copyrighted works enter the public domain only when they grow old and the copyrights expire.’
    • ‘The service is to be launched in the first quarter of 2005 and will distribute only licensed and public domain content.’
    • ‘I don't know all the jurisdiction issues and rights on a prisoner being kept in public domain like this, but I don't want to be stepping on toes.’
    • ‘Otherwise, the work dropped into the public domain well before the copyright term would have elapsed.’
    • ‘By placing the tape in the public domain, legal experts say, network execs pulled off a neat trick.’
    • ‘The sense of smell is an exceptionally private one, for which there is no common public domain which can be codified.’
    • ‘This legislation would strengthen the public domain without burdening copyright owners.’
    • ‘Information which has entered the public domain is not subject to confidentiality.’
    • ‘The small graphic icons that decorate the pages are probably also public domain and can be freely used without need for any permission.’
    • ‘The vast majority of the source material is readily available in the public domain.’
    • ‘Project Gutenberg is an organisation which is committed to making available the electronic version of public domain texts.’
    • ‘The most amazing works in history are public domain but not many public domain recordings exist (even in classical music).’


public domain

/ˈpəblɪk doʊˈmeɪn/