public domain

noun

Definition of public domain

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

Just as in the private sector, there aren’t enough female CEOs in the public domain, either. Shirley Leung, BostonGlobe.com, "This time, let’s skip the old-boy network and let the woman run Massport," 24 June 2019 Most were newspaper clippings published between 1880 and 1921, material that was originally in the public domain. Laura Dean, The New Yorker, "The Threat of War Brings New Fears to an American Hostage in Iran," 24 June 2019 According to the Reno Memo, the design will be a public domain -— just like ours. Lainey Seyler, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "It's OK Reno, Nev., your new flag design looks good, just like the Milwaukee People's Flag," 26 Apr. 2018 Two decades of research into how human DNA at the single-gene level codes for traits and diseases has already put most of that information in the public domain. Megan Molteni, WIRED, "Congress Is Debating—Again—Whether Genes Can Be Patented," 5 June 2019 Other opponents of the Academy’s plan argued that the western public domain embraced much fine agricultural land. Johnforristerross, Longreads, "Taming the Great American Desert," 2 July 2018 Immediately after the law came into force, a digital publisher of public domain works, Eric Eldred, filed a lawsuit challenging the act. Lawrence Lessig, WIRED, "Congress' Latest Move to Extend Copyright Protection Is Misguided," 18 May 2018 Then, the Photo Sleuth cross-references the photos with its own database: 15,000 identified Civil War soldier portraits from the public domain, relying on entities such as the U.S. Military History Institute. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "AI Could Help You Identify Civil War Vets in Your Family Tree," 4 Mar. 2019 Bach died in 1750, so the music is obviously in the public domain. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Sorry, Sony Music, you don’t own the rights to Bach’s music on Facebook," 14 Sep. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'public domain.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of public domain

1819, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

4 Jul 2019

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The first known use of public domain was in 1819

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More Definitions for public domain

public domain

noun
public do·​main | \ -dō-ˈmān\

Legal Definition of public domain

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

More from Merriam-Webster on public domain

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with public domain

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about public domain

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