public domain

noun

1
: land owned directly by the government
2
: the realm embracing property rights that belong to the community at large, are unprotected by copyright or patent, and are subject to appropriation by anyone

Examples of public domain in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The previous owner would retain the rights to Life’s photography and content going back to the 1930s, as public domain laws dictate. Kory Grow, Rolling Stone, 28 Mar. 2024 A lot of public domain data is antiquated—in the US, for example, copyright protection usually lasts over 70 years from the death of the author—so this type of dataset won’t be able to ground an AI model in current affairs or, say, how to spin up a blog post using current slang. Kate Knibbs, WIRED, 20 Mar. 2024 Social media platforms are not considered public domain, and the use of your photos could also be limited by copyright laws or the platform’s terms and conditions. Johnny C. Taylor Jr., USA TODAY, 22 Feb. 2024 With several asterisks, qualification, and caveats, Mickey Mouse in his earliest form will be the leader of the band of characters, films, and books that will become public domain as the year turns to 2024. Andrew Dalton, The Christian Science Monitor, 15 Dec. 2023 The World Wide Web was made public domain only a few months after MOSAIC was released. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, 17 May 2023 Winnie-the-Pooh also received the slasher treatment in last year's Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey after the character entered public domain. Jessica Wang, EW.com, 2 Jan. 2024 Namely, only the 1928 version of the character will become public domain, while later versions remain protected. Ellen Wexler, Smithsonian Magazine, 28 Dec. 2023 The show’s fondness for the latter is particularly ironic given how many Christians hated Glee — but then again, public domain! Vulture, 19 Dec. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'public domain.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1819, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of public domain was in 1819

Dictionary Entries Near public domain

Cite this Entry

“Public domain.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/public%20domain. Accessed 21 Apr. 2024.

Legal Definition

public domain

noun
public do·​main
-dō-ˈmān
1
: land owned directly by the government
2
: the realm or status of property rights that belong to the community at large, are unprotected by copyright or patent, and are subject to appropriation by anyone

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