Discover whether a work is under copyright or in the public domain. Here’s how.

In the US, copyright and the public domain are two sides of a bargain. Authors are granted a set of exclusive rights for a limited time, in exchange for making the work available to the public — and when that limited time ends, the work enters the public domain.

But how can you you be sure a work is in the public domain? There’s no list you can consult, unfortunately. If you want to be sure you’re free to use someone else’s creative work, you need to know some copyright basics. That’s why this little tutorial is here.

So ... if you want to learn how to tell a work is in the public domain, and what you must watch out for to avoid problems, follow along. Just click the Next button to jump right in, or browse the list of contents for a specific topic.

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