Copyright:Support Guides/Public Domain/Main Page

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Public Domain (c) Creative Commons, CC BY 3.0

Works that are not protected by copyright are said to be in the Public Domain, and you are free to use them in any way you choose. That means no restrictions on copying and adapting, no need to seek permission, and no uncertainty about your rights as a user. There is also no legal requirement to attribute works in the Public Domain to their creators, although doing so is an important part of maintaining academic integrity.

A work typically enters the Public Domain when its term of copyright expires. Determining whether or not a work is in the Public Domain can be complicated, however, as the term of copyright often differs depending on a work’s authorship, format, date of publication, and country of origin.

This guide will show you how to determine if a work is in the Public Domain in Canada, how to evaluate works that originated in other countries, and how to avoid common mistakes concerning adaptations, translations, and scholarly editions.

Moreover, this guide contains detailed information about the duration of copyright for works in different formats, as well as an annotated list of Public Domain resources where you can search for works in the Public Domain.

Country of Origin What are the terms of Public Domain?
Canada Follow Canadian Law
Berne Convention Country If item would be in the Public Domain if created in Canada, then consider it to be Public Domain in Canada
None of the above Contact copyright copyright.services@ubc.ca for assistance
Important note: This guide provides general information about the Public Domain in Canada. If you need to determine whether a copyrighted work is in the Public Domain in a different jurisdiction, as might be the case when submitting a manuscript containing third-party copyrighted materials to an international publisher, please seek guidance from a lawyer.