The EcoPort Foundation
Relevance of Copyright and Pitfalls of the Public Domain
You are at: EcoPort Foundation: List of Footnote Clauses: Relevance of Copyright and Pitfalls of the Public Domain
Questions, comments and suggestions: t.putter@ecoport.org

'Copyright' and 'Public Domain' are familiar, reserved legal terms and concepts. They are opposites: copyright describing the legal right of creative artists or publishers to control the use and reproduction of their original works. The term 'public domain' describes a condition of not being protected by patent or copyright and so freely available for use. When something is in the public domain, it is also openly known and revealed, as opposed to being kept secret. Thus, being in the 'public domain' affects two aspects, namely protection and disclosure.

The point of focus here is to alert readers to the fact that if something is declared to be in the public domain, such an explicit act makes the information freely available for any kind of use, including subsequent proprietary use of the information. For example, a third party might find information in the public domain, assemble and collate it and publish a book and claim copyright to the book. The book itself might be a new species of 'thing' even though its content may not. If any body places say a set of high resolution pictures in the public domain, these might be assembled and used to produce a products such a pictorial calendar, which the third party could copyright and sell commercially.

The third way, which combined attributes of both copyright and the public domain can be found in the GNU/copyleft approach and system which is used in EcoPort and by the EcoPort Foundation.