International treatment of the public domain

jcowan at jcowan at
Tue Feb 17 19:48:29 UTC 2004

Russell McOrmond scripsit:

> It appears that with US government created works that every US
> citizen has the right to apply licenses to the work, 

Not so.  See my other posting.

> Given that term expiry is not the only way for a work to
> enter the public domain, and term expiry can be different in different
> countries (A Disney production gets 95 years in the USA but fortunately
> only 50 years in Canada), are the other methods to enter into the public
> domain also country specific?

Yes.  U.S. government works are P.D. in the U.S., but Canadian government
works appear not to be so in Canada, and U.K. government works are definitely
copyrighted by the Crown.

In addition, there are country-specific rights:  for example, a Canadian
performer in Canada has a right in the nature of copyright over his unrecorded
performance (it can't be imitated or recorded without a license), whereas in
the U.S. nothing that is not "fixed in a tangible medium" can be the object
of copyright.

>   It was always my understanding that a work that was released into the
> public domain by its author (Such as by a public domain dedication
> ) in the USA or any
> other country that this work was instantaneously in the public domain in
> all countries.

Seemingly not.

Some people open all the Windows;       John Cowan
wise wives welcome the spring           jcowan at
by moving the Unix.           
  --ad for Unix Book Units (U.K.)
license-discuss archive is at

More information about the License-discuss mailing list