Works are in the public domain: if they are not covered by intellectual property rights; if the intellectual property rights have expired; if the intellectual property rights are forfeited. Examples of public domain: the English language, the formula of Newtonian physics, the works of Shakespeare the works of Beethoven, the patents on powered flight.

Public domain may also refer to ideas, information, and works that are publicly available, but in the context of intellectual property law (copyright, patents, and trade marks). Public domain are works, ideas, and information which are intangible to private ownership or available for use by members of the public. Public domain is treated as intellectual property rights (copyright, patents, and trade marks) that expired or were abandoned. All works created before copyright law was established are in the public domain. Copyright law is different in every country.

8 Values from works in the public domain include:

  1. Promoting public health and safety through information.
  2. Promoting the democratic process and values.
  3. Promoting education.
  4. Access to cultural heritage.
  5. Building blocks for the creation of new knowledge
  6. Enabling follow-on innovation.
  7. Enabling low cost access to information without the need to locate the owner.
  8. Enabling competitive imitation.

Derivative works include:

  1. translations
  2. musical arrangements
  3. dramatizations of a work
  4. other forms of transformation or adaptation.

Copyrighted works may not be used for derivative works without permission from the copyright owner, Public domain works can be freely used for derivative works without permission. Artworks that are public domain may also be reproduced photographically or artistically or used as the basis of new, interpretive works. Since 1999 all plays of Shakespeare are public domain.

Works not covered by copyright law:

  1. The underlying idea that is expressed or manifested in the creation of a work.
  2. Works created before the existence of copyright and patent laws
  3. the Bible
  4. the inventions of Archimedes
  5. Works of the United States Government and various other governments are excluded from copyright law

The definition of public domain is not uniform and may not only include completed works, but also permitted uses of works still covered by intellectual property rights.