public domain


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public domain (uncountable)

  1. The realm of intellectual property which is not protected by patents or copyright, i.e. over which no person or other legal entity can establish a proprietary interest.
    This book is in the public domain.
    There is very little information about the treaty which is in the public domain.
  2. Open land such as unowned prairie in the western and southwestern United States; space not subject to a land patent.
  3. The realm of published works, as opposed to unpublished tracts.
    • 2012, David W. Phillipson, Foundations of an African Civilisation. Aksum & the northern Horn, 1000 BC–AD 1300, Woodbridge, Suffolk: James Currey, page 5:
      All works cited in this book are in the public domain: I have strictly excluded items such as unpublished university dissertations and conference presentations, reports of limited circulation like those to licensing and funding agencies, and notes in newsletters.

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