What Does The Public Domain Mean?

What Does The Public Domain Mean?

What does the Public Domain mean to you? This brief essay is an effort to express what the Public Domain means to this author.

Every protected creative expression our nimble minds produce eventually falls into this ethereal like sphere

The immense Public Domain can be considered an intangible Repository, for work of a creative attribute, that does not qualify for Intellectual Property Rights protection status, or this status has expired.

Every protected creative expression our nimble minds produce eventually falls into this ethereal like sphere.

However as a consequence of the mishmash of  Laws, around the World, governing Intellectual Property Rights over many years, the Copyright Status on many works is anything but clear and definite.

The end result, which should be a readily accessible resource of infinite inspiration, that leads to genial cooperation and collaboration, is instead, contaminated with the sad frustration of uncertainty. Thus imposing unnecessary burdens on both industrious individuals, and society.

True Leaders

Many altruistic folk generously deposit their Intellectual Endeavors into this cauldron of Human mental activity we have dubbed the Public Domain. Rejecting the conformist idea of the necessity for commercial protection. Exercising their options for immediate dissemination of knowledge. These courageous folk are the genuine vanguard building a better Society. My Heroes, all.

Belongs To Us

Public Domain works can be used in any fashion one desires, without the need to seek permission. But good manners will witness our attribution to the source of inspiration where possible.

This treasure trove of public domain works belong to everybody and anybody

This treasure trove of Public Domain Inspiration belongs to everybody and anybody.

However, as exciting as the prospects of delving into this treasure trove may be, we should ever stay mindful, to ensure a Work that we may be currently interested in using, is definitely in this intangible repository.

Wikimedia Commons, demonstrating the Power of true Sharing, provides a par excellent service identifying and cataloging assorted works in the Public Domain. A wonderful resource. 

The verification though, that any Creative Works Copyright Protection has indeed expired in one's own jurisdiction, remains the responsibility of the individual who wishes to use such a work.

 Original Copy

Once identified as being Copyright Expired, the most reliable manner of exploiting public domain gems is to possess an original copy. It is perfectly legitimate to modify a copyright  expired creative expression and claim your own copyright to your modified version. Many folk are doing just that. Including well known names.


This author surprised himself by taking a quick tour though his own library to find quite a number of reworked versions of the old masters, including Shakespeare, Emerson, Plato, and Napoleon Hill.

He waited patiently for years, for some of these Deep Thinking Minds work to reappear.

He is now anticipating finding more treasures reappear, in the market place, as this source of Creative Feed-stock presents income opportunities for the agile of mind. Agile minds are now cultivating this dormant market place as it becomes more widely recognized and exploited.
Is he grateful that imaginative souls made these books available without appreciably altering the message the original Creators intended to convey?

You bet!!

Creative Feed-stock

Feed-stock is an industrial description, employed to identify the raw material used to supply production machines in manufacturing.

Previous Creative Effort Is The Heart And Soul Of The Public Domain

A simple example of feed-stock is a metal bar of a given length to manufacture bolts. When the bar is consumed by cutting into lengths as the desired bolts are produced, it is replaced by a new bar.

As each bar is consumed producing a product, the manufacturer's material supply becomes depleted. Raw materials must be continuously restocked to remain productive.

Unlike consumable raw materials, Good Works in the public domain are unrestricted, inexhaustible creative feed-stock.

You, I, and a thousand other Creators, can use the same work for our own particular purpose and yet it remains ready to be considered by authors yet to discover it. The Public Domain is the bridge that links the past, the present, and the future.

As conducive to building and sharing wealth that the dissemination and sharing of knowledge brings to every economy that encourages creative expression, there is a sorry psychologically violent opposition, from the greedy few, who wish to stymie this desirable economic boost for their own short lived benefit.

The Past Is The Future

Reworking and Remixing of old Works is lucrative and common. The absolutely best thing about the Public Domain, is this inexhaustible aspect, that permits ad infinitum repetition of the same material, for refreshingly new creative expression. Enriching other folks lives, and improving our own bank balances.

Much of Creative Expression is built on what has gone before. Even Intuitive Thinking can be sparked, by what has gone before. What has gone before, is the heart and soul of the Public Domain.

If you have a superlative idea, be bold! Express it! You may be cast in the same mold as Walt Disney, or Ted Turner.

These two men made magnificent use of the Public Domain.

Frustration of uncertainty did not deter them, as they independently went about forging their Private Domains from the Public Domain.

Are you grateful they did?

Do We Have The Fortitude??

The frustration of uncertainty does not detract from the immense worth and utility of the Public Domain.

A huge public service could be rendered by every government on earth

Uncertainty merely makes this goldmine of opportunity and minefield of legal hazards difficult to use.

Until the day bright Political Minds finally recognize the prodigious latent economic value, inherent in indexing the recorded Thinking of past generations, we will have to absorb the expense of individually investigating the Copyright Status of individual works. Over and over.

That equally considerable cost of lost opportunity by the unfortunate would be Creators who give up, because of the expense to them, in terms of both time and money, is way beyond their means, is another avoidable waste of effort.

A huge public service, towards stimulating an economy, via stimulating Creative opportunity, could be delivered by every Government on Earth. This can be accomplished by indexing the Copyright Status of the contents of the Public Domain in their jurisdiction. This author is not suggesting doing so would be easy. Just possible, and worthy of doing.

This service, if rendered, would surely fan the already earnest flames of Creative Activity and possibly recession proof the economy of any Nation that boldly demonstrated the initiative to implement such a courageous move. Such a service would also have the effect of stimulating Creative Activity by removing the specter of a time and money intensive lawsuit.

Employers of Public Domain Works could labor with Peace Of Mind. Comfortable in the secure knowledge, that their Creative Efforts, will not attract unwelcome attention, by inadvertently infringing on others Intellectual Property Rights.

Or be wasted.

Sad Prospect – For Some

The saddest thing to happen to the public domain is that it won't be long before present and future contributions dry up considerably.

A welcome refreshing balance

Current Intellectual Rights legislation in the form of DRM, and longer copyright duration, ensures that contemporary creative expressions will not be available for rework or remix, for in excess of a century. Five generations away!

What this means for the commercial distributors of others Creative Efforts in the future, is a sad  drying up of new products to stock their shelves with. All these distributors will have to promote is existing merchandise.

Can you sense a stroke of irony?

In the meanwhile, that transparent open source movement, whose prescience and willingness to Share, will morph into a genuine Public Domain. Counter ensuring a secure, vibrant, stimulating and profitable landscape, providing up to the minute feed-stock to power Creative Activity of every dimension imaginable.

Bringing with it a welcome, if somewhat overdue, refreshing balance for a jaded Society, and Human Relations.

 Public Domain Manifesto


What does the Public Domain mean is competently described in the Public Domain Manifesto, produced by Communia. The Public Domain Manifesto is rapidly gathering signatures from Organizations and individuals from around the World, this author, too, feels strongly enough about the aims of this Document to put his name to it.

Personal Development Rocks!

Next - The Law Of Attraction

Return To Intellectual Property Rights

Return To pdThinker.com