Meera Nair

Public Domain

In Resources on July 13, 2009 at 7:02 am

Trying to get this blog off the ground is proving to be challenging.  Before I can adequately convey the importance of fair dealing (or fair duty), I first have to introduce the principles of copyright and its language.  One key element is the public domain.

The term public domain is not defined in our Act. Connotation of the phrase ranges from the benign (that which is freely available to the public) to an aura of degradation (to fall into the public domain implies a loss of stature). Common to both interpretations is the belief that material in the public domain is not protected by copyright.

Yet much greater scope is legitimately possible.  For more information see the Public Domain. For now I’ll cut to the chase. The World Intellectual Property Organization defines the public domain as:

 “… the realm of works which can be exploited by everybody without any authorization (emphasis mine).”

This includes work lacking copyright protection, however, it also includes currently copyrighted material legitimately accessed in accordance with exceptions detailed in our Act. Exceptions remove the requirement of authorization from a copyright holder.  And, one such exception is Fair Dealing. 

Think about it – every book, picture, film, musical composition, photograph, etc., is part of the public domain.  It becomes such, by virtue of how you use the material…

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