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Copyrighted Materials

This guide should not be construed as a substitute for legal advice, nor is this resource comprehensive on the subject of copyright.

The following materials are NOT protected under U.S. Copyright law:

The simple absence of a copyright notice does not mean that a work is in the public domain. The general rules for determining whether a work is in the public domain are as follows:

  • Works published on or before December 31, 1922 are in the public domain.
  • Works published between January 1, 1923 and December 31, 1978, inclusive, do not become public domain for 95 years from the date of publication, so long as the there is a copyright notice and copyright owner also renewed the copyright term.
  • Works published after 1978 do not become public domain for 70 years from the date the author dies (called, "life of the author" plus 70 years).
  • "Freeware" software
  • U.S. Government works
  • Facts
  • Ideas, processes, methods, and systems described in copyrighted works
See also: Cornell University's Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States chart

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