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Copyright for Teaching and Instruction

About Public Domain / Find Public Domain Works

Public Domain

This page will assist with questions regarding the following:

  • For face-to-face teaching; For online learning (posts on Canvas or online courses):  finding books, articles, motion pictures, images, sound or other works to reuse for teaching, assignments, or other scholarly or creative purposes.

Public Domain Mark   CC0 Public Domain Logo

Public Domain is a status given to publications, creative works, or other types of works that are no longer protected by copyright (see top, right image).  No one legally owns these works, so they can be reused or repurposed by anyone!

How can public domain works be used? 

  • Publications and Presentations: public domain images can provide examples or illustrations of concepts
  • Teaching:  public domain works can be used as readings, assignments, translations, or labs.
  • Scholarly Activities:  reuse, repurpose, or integrate into current research.
  • Creative Tasks:  update, revise, or make a work inspired by something in the public domain.

This Research Guide provides links to comprehensive information on public domain, when items enter it, and where public domain works can be found.

If I reuse a public domain work, do I need to cite it?  Although these works are free of copyright restrictions, attributing a public domain work is good practice from the standpoints of academic integrity and the respect of intellectual property.  Using a public domain work does not violate copyright, but failing to attribute it or wrongfully claiming authorship is considered plagiarism (Crews, 2020, pg. 58).  Therefore, citing a public domain work is just the ethically right thing to do!     

Disclaimer:  The FAU Libraries and its faculty, staff, and administration are not attorneys and cannot interpret the law.  This information is provided for educational purposes only and does not substitute for advice from legal counsel. 

Source:  Crews, K. D. (2020).  Copyright law for librarians and educators: Creative strategies and practical solutions (4th Ed.).  ALA Editions.

Public Domain

Various web pages and meta-lists include links to public domain works; these may sometimes include works with copyright protection.

Recommended:  check on any copyright information that may be available on any work of interest to be sure it is actually in the public domain, and document it.

Web Pages and Meta-Lists

Books and Texts

Images and Museums

Quick Tip:  Use these sites' search features to limit items to Creative Commons or Public Domain works.

Music (Sound, Sheet Music)



US Copyright Office and Federal Law

Public Domain in Plain Language

Determine If a Work is in The Public Domain

Books in the Library

Last updated on Jan 29, 2024 2:13 PM