Public domain= forever. Mostly.
What qualifies in the first place?
“…original works of authorship fixed
in any tangible medium of
Photos and art produced by
humans will almost always qualify.
*You can read U.S. copyright law at www.copyright.gov/title17. That
quote is from Section 102.
Some things aren’t eligible for
protection in the first place.
• US federal government works
• Insufficient authorship
See sections 102 & 105
Thinking about authorship
and the threshold of originality
Exact copies of public domain
works aren’t protected.
• Bridgeman Art Library case
• Articles for further reading:
Exact copies of
public domain works
Different approaches from different
• The Getty Open Content Program
• The Commons on Flickr
– Smithsonian, Internet Archive, NASA, etc.
• Folger Shakespeare Library (CC BY-NC-SA)
• The Met’s Open Access for Scholarly
II. Protected by copyright,
part of DPLA:
How does that work?
Copyright law gives copyright
holders exclusive rights.
(See section 106)
• They can grant permission.
• Their rights have limitations.
Creative Commons licenses
are a way to give
broad, general permission
• Require giving credit
• Author keeps copyright ownership
• Widely used (for all kinds of
• Machine readable
• Six different licenses to choose from
Keys, USS Bowfin by Joseph Novak CC BY http://www.flickr.com/photos/josephleenovak/5559755789/
CC BY: Attribution
Bare bones by Caroline CC BY http://www.flickr.com/photos/hills_alive/8511444405/
The NonCommercial (NC)
• Some debate about
what counts as
• “not primarily intended
for or directed towards
x Money for Exchange in Currency Bank by epSos.de CC BY http://www.flickr.com/photos/epsos/8463683689/
The No Derivative Works (ND)
• No “translation,
• Inclusions in
Building Blocks by tiffany terry CC BY http://www.flickr.com/photos/35168673@N03/6086229920/
The ShareAlike (SA) Restriction
• Applies to
Photo by Katie Fortney
Stone balancing! by Giles Turnbull CC BY-NC http://www.flickr.com/photos/gilest/132093750/
Not everything in DPLA is going to
be that clear and friendly.
Fair use is flexible.
Fair use is the law.
Fair use, including for purposes such as criticism,
comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship
or research, is not an infringement. Factors to be
(1) the purpose and character of your use;
(2) the nature of the work you’re using (not your
(3) the amount/substantiality used;
(4) the effect of your use on the market for the
work you’re using.
- see 17 U.S. Code § 107
Courts will always walk
through the 4 factors.
But there are other approaches
to help you think through it.
1. Did the use “transform” the material
taken from the copyrighted work by
using it for a broadly beneficial purpose
different from that of the original?
2. Was the material taken appropriate in
kind and amount?
Copyright comes from the
“To promote the Progress of Science
and useful Arts, by securing for limited
Times to Authors and Inventors the
exclusive Right to their respective
Writings and Discoveries”
-Article I, Section 8, Clause 8
Learn more about fair use. It’s fun.
• ARL Code:
• List of common misunderstandings
about fair use:
• ALA OITP “Fair Use Evaluator:”
• University of Minnesota “Thinking
Through Fair Use:”