Where is the public domain?

By Andrew Hudson Published: August 14, 2012 Updated: October 24, 2013

Nowhere, it is the absence of copyright.

“The public domain is not a place. 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.”
U.S. Copyright Office


Reply by Anonymous

June 10, 2017

Hello, if I purchase two glass negatives made in 1890, may I register a copyright on the two images? Photographers are unknown, never published, and it has been over 120 years. Thank you!

Reply by Visual Artist

February 13, 2014

So scenario time? Let’s say I’m a visual artist, I see a photograph liscensed under the public domain. Am I allowed to paint the photograph for personal work? I’m just a little curious on how this works.

Reply by Andrew Hudson, PhotoSecrets

March 20, 2014



Yes. If a photograph is in the public domain then you can do with it whatever you like, including painting it for personal work.


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