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What is "Public Domain"?
"A work of authorship is in the public domain if it is no longer under copyright protection or if it failed to meet the requirements for copyright protection. Works in the public domain may be used freely without the permission of the former copyright owner." -- Copyright.gov
Public Domain & Permission-free Resources
The following resources point toward arts-related works that may be in the public domain. Always use the Public Domain Calculators to make your own determination that a work is in the public domain.
Public Domain Calculators
Use these tools to help determine if a work is in the public domain.
Copyright Registration and Renewal Databases
Copyright Registration and Renewals Database: After 1977 only
Search the Copyright Public Records Catalog online for registered books, music, art, and periodicals, and other works published from 1978 to present. Includes copyright ownership documents.
Copyright Renewal Database: Renewals 1950-1992
READ THIS CLOSELY: "This database makes searchable the copyright renewal records received by the US Copyright Office between 1950 and 1992 for books published in the US between 1923 and 1963. Note that the database includes only US Class A (book) renewals."
Copyright Office: Virtual Card Catalog
As of September 2020, this Virtual Card Catalog is a "proof of concept" and not yet a fully functioning search tool. When finished, it will provide digital access to all copyright indexes from 1870-1977.
Head of Fine Arts & Architecture Library