A creative work is said to be in the public domain if there are no laws which restrict its use by the public at large. For instance, a work may be in the public domain if no laws establish proprietary rights over the work, or if the work or its subject matter are specifically excluded from existing laws.
Because proprietary rights are founded in national laws, an item may be public domain in one jurisdiction but not another. For instance, some works of literature are public domain in the United States but not in the European Union and vice versa.
The underlying idea that is expressed or manifested in the creation of a work generally cannot be the subject of copyright law (see idea-expression divide). Mathematical formulae will therefore generally form part of the public domain, to the extent that their expression in the form of software is not covered by copyright; however, algorithms can be the subject of a software patent in some jurisdictions.
Works created before the existence of copyright and patent laws also form part of the public domain. The Bible and the inventions of Archimedes are in the public domain. However, copyright may exist in translations or new formulations of these works.
Although "intellectual property" laws are not designed to prevent facts from entering the public domain, collections of facts organized or presented in a creative way, such as categorized lists, may be copyrighted. Collections of data with intuitive organization, such as alphabetized directories like telephone directories, are generally not copyrightable. In some countries copyright-like rights are granted for databases, even those containing mere facts. A sui generis database rights regime is in place in the European Union.
Works of the United States Government and various other governments are excluded from copyright law and may therefore be considered to be in the public domain in their respective countries. They may also be in the public domain in other countries as well.
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Media in category "Public Domain"
The following 200 files are in this category, out of 207 total.