The Public Domain (Reborn!)

The public domain is comprised of all the works that are free of copyright (or other IP) restrictions. Anyone can copy, share, adapt, perform, modify, and otherwise use public domain materials without asking or paying a rightsholder. Works in the public domain belong to the public, and provide a crucial well of shared knowledge, inspiration, and raw material for new works of all kinds.

In a way the public domain was reborn in 2019, as published works shed their copyrights for the first time since copyright terms were last extended, in 1998. All works first published in the US in 1923 rose into the public domain on January 1, 2019, and each year for the next half-century or so the public domain will be replenished with another year’s worth of published material—1924 in 2020, 1925 in 2021, etc. (Things will shift again around 2073, for reasons too complicated to explain here!)

At any rate, here you’ll find information about how to find collections of public domain works at UVA and beyond, how to tell if a work is in the public domain, how we’re celebrating the rebirth of the public domain starting in 2019, and how the Library can help you work with public domain materials.

If you’re in Charlottesville, please join us on Friday, 2/22, from 5-7pm at Harrison-Small for a jazz-infused, 1923-style reception to celebrate the Public Domain 2019 exhibition and the rebirth of the public domain, as well as the advent of Fair Use Week and the forthcoming publication of a groundbreaking collection of public domain jazz tunes.

Featuring a gallery talk by Brandon Butler, recognition of local fair use champions, a variety of desserts, champagne, and live public domain jazz from members of the Bob Schwartz Quartet, Prof. Scott Deveaux, and jazz musicians from the Cville and UVA communities.

Free and open to the public! Add to your Outlook here: