Get help working with the public domain

The rebirth of the public domain presents campuses like ours with a wide variety of opportunities to engage with newly freed works, both for research and for teaching. Once a work enters the public domain, anyone may:

  • Copy and distribute the work to the public
  • Perform and display the work publicly (including online)
  • Create new adaptations of the work, like annotated editions, scholarly editions, abridgements, translations, sequels, interactive editions, and adaptations to new media (from novel to movie, movie to musical, short story to video game, etc.).

You can do these things for any reason or no reason, whether commercial or educational. Any number of research and teaching projects might be developed that could take advantage of these new rights to use existing works.

Major digital collections like the HathiTrust Digital Library, the Internet Archive, and Google Books, as well as research libraries with their own digital collections, release public domain works for free online to the public, making digital raw material easy to obtain. The UVA Library is digitizing select materials from our collections, as well, for release to the public as soon as they shed their copyrights.

If you have ideas for projects using these works, the Library can support you in a variety of ways:

  • Help identifying whether a particular work will be entering the public domain in coming years–review our public domain resources and email Brandon Butler if you have additional questions.
  • Digitization for works that aren’t already in large collections like HathiTrust and the Internet Archive—Digital Production Group Request Form. Please note on the form that your request is for public domain material that can be freely published online—that will help us route it properly, and ensure the scans become part of our public digital collections!
  • Consultation and mentorship around a variety of digital tools and platforms that can be used in connection with public domain material, via ScholarsLab. Contact