What Works Fall Into the Public Domain?

One of the most popular topics among information entrepreneurs (infopreneurs) is public domain works. There are entire publishing empires built on their use. Who knows, yours might be the next. Here we discuss four specific categories that fall into the public domain. The first three are specific to the United States and the last relates to foreign works (outside of the U.S).These are by no means all of the categories, but the ones most frequently of financial benefit to entrepreneurs.

1. The first category includes all of those works published in the U.S. before 1929. These are all available for you to use in any way you see fit. There are no restrictions on any of these works. This category is a treasure trove of resources and is probably the first place to look when looking for a work that you can use as your own. You will be amazed at the almost unlimited number of works available on more topics than you can imagine. It is true that you will not find the latest technology discussed in these works but since many of the topics are timeless, you may only need to update them with recent illustrations in order to monetize them or turn them into a new informational work.

2. U.S. works between 1923 and 1963 if they were not renewed in the 28th year. This is true even if the work has a copyright notice. There are other categories of works after 1963 and if you are interested in these more recent works, information is readily available to you in governmental publications and on the internet.

3. Governmental Works. Generally, works done by the U.S. federal government offices and some state offices are in the public domain. Exceptions might be where a subcontractor of a publication retains the rights while giving use to it to the government entity. For those works in this category, you have unrestricted rights to their use. For example, a free governmental publication on warnings related to asbestos in houses built prior to 1974 has been copied verbatim by numerous sources and sold.

4. Certain Foreign works. This includes all works published anywhere before 1909 and foreign works published between 1909 and 1923 even with a copyright notice. When in doubt on the possible use of a foreign work, it is best to check the regulations of the country in question.

Building a business on public domain works is a low risk, high profit business, with a never ending supply of prospective products as new works enter the pool through expiring copyrights. Start yours today.

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