Is the Copyright Public Domain Irrevocable?: An Introduction to Golan v. Holder
25 Pages Posted: 30 Jul 2014 Last revised: 31 Jul 2014
Date Written: 2011
The public domain may be defined as that body of literary and artistic works (or other information) that is not subject to any copyright (or other intellectual property right), and which therefore may be freely used by any member of the general public. This concept is implicit in the Patent and Copyright Clause of the Constitution, which stipulates that patents and copyrights may only be granted “to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts,” and only “for limited Times.” The “limited Times” restriction implies that patents and copyrights must expire at some point, and the “Progress” limitation implies that patents and copyright can only be granted for new works, not for pre-existing ones. Thus, once a previously granted copyright on a work has expired, the general public has a “federal right to copy and to use” the work without attribution.
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