What does “public domain” means?
The term “public domain” is usually found on the Internet; it refers to any creative material (images, photographs, drawings, etc.) that is not owned by any specific person or company. It means that they are free to use by anyone in any context, without need for permission or payment of fees – but not owned.
Some works are considered public domain due to having being made prior to copyright laws, such as literature works (Shakespeare, for example), silent films, and paintings (like the Mona Lisa). Some have had their copyrights expired – usually after 70 years of being released, but that varies from country to country. It’s also possible for the intellectual owner of the material to forfeit their rights, thus making their work public domain, especially when they feel like it’s beneficial for mankind. For example, when Volvo perfected the 3-point seat belt we use today, they chose to open up the patent, allowing for all manufacturers to implement the device in all cars.
Can my work be considered public domain?
Unless you trademark it, copyright it or patent it, yes it can. It’s actually one of the biggest problems of nowadays artists, as they put their works out on the Internet to get visibility, but forget that there are people who would use to make a profit for themselves, not the artist. Keep in mind that anything that goes online is might be copied and re-used without you being none the wiser. Most people use tricks like watermarks to render the images of their work unusable; there are lots of ways to protect yourself, and they vary from country to country, so a good research is essential. It might not be exactly cheap, but it will ensure you are the only one getting paid for your hard work.
How can I put my work online without wavering my copyrights?
You can take a few steps to ensure you’re the only one profiting from your work. First you should check what are the copyright regulations in your country: in some places you’re required to register the work being copyrighted. If you’re working with images (drawings, pictures, photographs, etc.), always add copyright notice and management information either close to or in your image; this way, even if it does get copied at least you get the credit. Another thing you can do in your website is to disable the “right-click” option, which stops people from copying your images to their devices.
Another alternative is Creative Commons, an American non-profit organization that releases copyright-licenses known as Creative Commons licenses free of charge to the public; these aren’t exactly copyright as they allow the creators to decide which rights they keep and what rights they wave off – since the main objective of the organization is to build a richer public domain by allowing both copyright owner and any users the chance to construct upon pre-existing works without detriment to any party.
How does Creative Commons work?
The idea of the CC is based upon the copyright laws, but made easier and simpler to acquire: when you have an “all rights reserved” copyright management you are signing up for specific rights; anyone using your product has to negotiate each individual right. CC work with a “some rights reserved” copyright management, meaning that when you apply for it you decide what rights you keep and what rights you waver, making it faster, low-overhead, and low-cost copyright management instrument for both owners (licensors) and users (licensees).
Applying for a CC license in their website is supposedly simple; by answering some questions about each right (share and commercial use, for example) you are directed to the license that best fits your work – since you’re not dealing with the “all rights reserved” management you got to choose what you’re protecting and wavering.