What Is the Public Domain? Although commonly used in copyright parlance, the phrase “public domain” (PD) isn’t in the U.S. Copyright Act. It is, however, commonly used to refer to content that isn’t protected by copyright law. Works that are in the public domain may be used freely, without obtaining permission from or compensating the copyright owner.
Is it Illegal? No it isn't illegal. All of the movies we sell, are checked for copyright status before we decide to sell them. Most of the films we sell were sold on VHS, but not on DVD, which means that these films could become lost in time, so we convert them, enhance them, and put them onto DVD where they can be enjoyed again.
How Do Works Enter the Public Domain? Public domain works, or content that isn’t protected by copyright law, may not be protected for a variety of reasons, including the following:
The duration of copyright in the work has expired -- In the U.S., for example, the copyright in a book expires 70 years after the death of its author. (In Canada, copyright expires 50 years after the author’s death.) The minimum duration of copyright protection as set out in the leading copyright treaty, the Berne Convention, is life-plus-fifty but many countries now have a life-plus-seventy duration as in the U.S. (See the section below on Public Domain in Other Countries.)
The work was produced by the U.S. federal government -- In the U.S., works produced by the federal government don’t have copyright protection. However, a work produced by a consultant or freelancer to the government may have protection and may transfer that copyright to the government. Note that in other countries such as Canada, there is copyright protection in federal government works.
The work isn’t fixed in a tangible form -- A work such as a speech, lecture or improvisational comedy routine that hasn’t previously been written or recorded in any manner isn’t protected by copyright and therefore is in the public domain.
The work didn’t include a proper copyright notice prior to 1 March 1989 -- In the U.S., this doesn’t apply to works created after 1 March 1989, when a copyright notice became no longer mandatory to protect a work. However, prior to that date, notice of copyright was necessary on all published works. Without this notice, the work went into the public domain. Note that most countries don’t have a copyright notice requirement.
The work doesn’t have sufficient originality -- Examples of works that may not have sufficient originality to be eligible for protection by copyright include lists or tables with content from public documents or other common sources.
If you have any questions regarding Public Domain then please feel free to contact us