Mazlo
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The public domain consists of all the creative works to which no exclusive intellectual property rights apply. Those rights may have expired, been forfeited, expressly waived, or may be inapplicable.

People have been creating music for millennia. The first musical notation system, the Music of Mesopotamia system, was created 4000 years ago. Guido of Arezzo introduced Latin musical notation in the 10th century. This laid the foundation for the preservation of global music in the public domain, a distinction formalized alongside copyright systems in the 17th Century. Musicians copyrighted their publications of musical notation as literary writings, but performing copyrighted pieces and creating derivative works were not restricted by early copyright laws. Copying was widespread, in compliance with the law, but expansions of those laws intended to benefit literary works and responding to commercial music recording technology's reproducibility have led to stricter rules. Relatively recently, a normative view that copying in music is not desirable and lazy has become popular among professional musicians.

A public-domain film is a film that was released to public domain by its author or because its copyright has expired. In 2016 there are more than 2,000 films on public domain in every genre, from musicals to romance, horror to animated movies and noir to western movies.

Derivative works include translations, musical arrangements, and dramatizations of a work, as well as other forms of transformation or adaptation. Copyrighted works may not be used for derivative works without permission from the copyright owner, while 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. Works derived from public domain works can be copyrighted.

While the copyright has expired for the Peter Pan works by J. M. Barrie (the play Peter Pan, or the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up and the novel Peter and Wendy) in the United Kingdom, it was granted a special exception under the Copyright, Designs, and Patents Act 1988 (Schedule 6) that requires royalties to be paid for commercial performances, publications and broadcasts of the story of Peter Pan within the UK, as long as Great Ormond Street Hospital (to whom Barrie gave the copyright) continues to exist.

Legal traditions differ on whether a work in the public domain can have its copyright restored. In the European Union, the Copyright Duration Directive was applied retroactively, restoring and extending the terms of copyright on material previously in the public domain. Term extensions by the U.S. and Australia generally have not removed works from the public domain, but rather delayed the addition of works to it. However, the United States moved away from that tradition with the Uruguay Round Agreements Act, which removed from the public domain many foreign-sourced works that had previously not been in copyright in the US for failure to comply with US-based formalities requirements. Consequently, in the US, foreign-sourced works and US-sourced works are now treated differently, with foreign-sourced works remaining under copyright regardless of compliance with formalities, while domestically-sourced works may be in the public domain if they failed to comply with then-existing formalities requirements—a situation described as odd by some scholars, and unfair by some US-based rightsholders.

Before 1988 in the US, works could be easily given into the public domain by just releasing it without an explicit Copyright notice. With the Berne Convention Implementation Act of 1988 (and the earlier Copyright Act of 1976, which went into effect in 1978), all works were by default copyright protected and needed to be actively given into public domain by a waiver statement/anti-copyright can call notice. Not all legal systems have processes for reliably donating works to the public domain, e.g. civil law of continental Europe. This may even "effectively prohibit any attempt by copyright owners to surrender rights automatically conferred by law, particularly moral rights".

A trademark registration may remain in force indefinitely, or expire without specific regard to its age. For a trademark registration to remain valid, the owner must continue to use it. In some circumstances, such as disuse, failure to assert trademark rights, or common usage by the public without regard for its intended use, it could become generic, and therefore part of the public domain.

Public Domain Day is an observance of when copyrights expire and works enter into the public domain. This legal transition of copyright works into the public domain usually happens every year on 1 January based on the individual copyright laws of each country.