Public Domain Determination form

How do you determine if a work is public domain or not? Depending on the work this can be an easy or a very complex task. Maarten Zeinstra of Open Nederland has developed a simple template for the Dutch situation. The template can be translated to your national situation too. Download the template in different formats.


Step 1. Determine all the parts that make te work.
A work often consists of multiple parts. A book has text, illustrations a cover and maybe a publisher is involved. A film has a script, recordings, a music scroe, etc. List all of these in the left column.

Based on these parts you can determine what rights are in play. Is it an artistic work of a person? Is it an anonimous artistic work? Are there performers involved, like actors? Is it a databank? Is there a movie or music producer involved?

Step 2. Add data
Add the data for all of the seperate parts of the work. For example: when was the work first published? When did the (last involved) creator die? When was the last significant investment in the databank?

Step 3. Determine the public domain date
Based on the all the dates of the previous step you can determine when a work is not copyright protected anymore. It is possible that this date is not known yet, for example when a rightsholder is still alive.


The Public Domain Day logo, designed by Sebastiaan ter Burg, CC0 – “No Rights Reserved”