public domain

Public domain refers to a work that is available to the public as a whole and not subject to intellectual property (copyright, trademark, or patent) restrictions.

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Although anybody can use works in the public domain, and no permission is required for use, nobody will ever have ownership. In addition to works with expired copyrights, the public domain also consists of works that came into existence before intellectual property laws existed, government works, and underlying ideas that form the basis for the works that arise out of them. Along with the fair use defense, the concept of public domain can help media professional liability insureds mitigate exposures.