public domain



From public (able to be seen or known by everyone) +‎ domain (field or sphere of activity, expertise, or influence).[1]



public domain (uncountable)

  1. (also attributively) Often preceded by in the.
    1. The state of not being owned by anyone, and thus freely usable by everyone.
      1. (specifically, law) The realm of intellectual property which is not or no longer protected by copyrights or patents, and thus over which no person can establish a proprietary interest.
        As the copyright in this book has lapsed, it is now in the public domain.
    2. The state of not or no longer being confidential or secret.
      Very little information about the treaty is in the public domain.
  2. (especially US) Land regarded as owned by the public, and not subject to a land patent or other forms of private ownership (for example, unowned prairie in the southwestern and western United States).

Derived termsEdit


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ public domain, n.”, in OED Online  , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, launched 2000; “public domain, n.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.

Further readingEdit