What is the Public Domain?
Works in the public domain are free to anyone. The owner has given up all original rights to the work. That allows the user unrestricted access and unlimited creativity! Here are some rules regarding the public domain:
Works published in 1923 or before are in the public domain.
Works published between 1923 and 1963, whose copyright has not been renewed, are in the public domain.
Works published between 1923 and 1977 that have no copyright notice are in the public domain.
Unpublished works created before 1976 are in the public domain 70 years after the creator's death.
Most federal documents are in the public domain.
Works to which the author or owner has given up all rights are in the public domain.
Some open source documents, clip art and Freeware are in the public domain.
Source: Butler, Rebecca. Copyright for Teachers & Librarians in the 21st Century. New York: Neal-Schuman, 2011.
Where can I Find Works in the Public Domain?
Below are some suggested websites that will provide with public domain books, images, illustrations, audio, and films. These are all works where the copyright term has expired or the creator has not renewed the license. This means they are available to use, copy, modify whatever your need is.
Teachers: Do you have any public domain resources that you frequently use? Email suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will add them to this list.