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What does it mean to have something in the public domain

  1. Feb 10, 2006 #1

    Pengwuino

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    What does it mean to have something in the "public domain"

    Someone noted in another thread that when something is printed in the newspaper, it is free to use by all and is in the public domain. Obviously this isn't true but i was wondering what is the legal requirements for something to be considered "in the public domain".

    Also, when i think "public domain", i assume that means free to use without reference or copyright notices. Is this the correct legal definition in the first place?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 10, 2006 #2
  4. Feb 10, 2006 #3

    Pengwuino

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    jesus christ.... maybe i'll give that a nice read over summer :P
     
  5. Feb 10, 2006 #4

    Aether

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    http://www.copyright.gov/

    "Public domain" means that some intellectual property now belongs to the public as opposed to a person or business.
     
  6. Feb 10, 2006 #5

    Pengwuino

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    I know what it means but I was curious as to at what point does something become "public domain"
     
  7. Feb 10, 2006 #6

    Moonbear

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    Take as an example an invention with a 10 year patent. In the 10 years that it is patented, it is the property of the inventor who has legal authority to collect royalties or charge licensing fees for people to use it, and if someone infringes upon the patent (uses the ideas in it to sell it themselves), it gives them the right to sue for the profits the other person made off it. After the 10 year patent expires, the invention is in the public domain, and can be used by anyone without compensation to the inventor. In terms of copyrighted material, such as a cartoon, depending on the arrangement the artist has with the publisher, either the artist holds the copyright and the publisher pays royalties for the use of that copyrighted material, or, particularly in the case of a staff member employed by the publisher, the material may be considered the property of the publisher and the publisher holds the copyright. Either way, anyone else who wishes to reproduce that material needs to obtain permission from whoever holds the copyright and pay for that use.
     
  8. Feb 10, 2006 #7

    Moonbear

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    I can't speak for Denmark laws, but in the US, it is when the copyright or patent expires. Also, if an invention has been disclosed to the public and a patent claim has not been filed within one year of the date of disclosure, then it becomes public domain and cannot be patented (this is why I try to discourage people who come here to discuss some idea they have for an invention, because posting details about it here would be public disclosure, which would start the clock counting to 1 year; even if I think their idea is loopy, on the off-chance it results in something patentable, they should know what they are risking by sharing it on a publicly viewable forum).
     
  9. Feb 10, 2006 #8

    Pengwuino

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    Is there a statute of limitatoins-type deal when it comes to say, something in a newspaper? Do those things expire?
     
  10. Feb 10, 2006 #9

    Moonbear

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    I don't know if or when they expire. It used to be pretty well a rule of thumb that written works were protected for 30 years, but I'm not sure if that's current law or not.

    Here's a site that explains a lot, especially in relation to use of copyrighted material on the internet, as would apply here (it dispels a lot of myths).
    http://www.templetons.com/brad/copymyths.html
     
  11. Feb 10, 2006 #10

    Astronuc

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  12. Feb 11, 2006 #11

    Moonbear

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    Okay, now I'm wondering where I got it in my head that it was 30 years. Maybe I had that 28 year renewal registration after 1978 bit garbled into my brain somewhere, but I can't imagine why I would have known that? So, maybe I just imagined it or something. :confused: Thanks Astronuc for clearing that up.
     
  13. Feb 11, 2006 #12

    Ivan Seeking

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    Check your zipper.
     
  14. Feb 11, 2006 #13

    Aether

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    This is good advice for U.S. patents (and the Philippines), but beware...the last time I checked, no other country offered even this one-year grace period. Such a disclosure doesn't necessarily have to be "public" to damage your patent rights...for example, if you disclose an invention (prior to filing a patent application) to any person who isn't bound by a proper confidentiality agreement then you could instantly lose all patent rights in every country besides the U.S. and the Philippines...and a one-year clock starts there as Moonbear said. "Public use" can also cause the same type of damage to your patent rights.
     
  15. Feb 12, 2006 #14
    It's all Mickey Mouse's fault. The term for copy right protection has been extended every single time Mickey gets close to falling in the public domain.
     
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