Rapid City, SD asked in Copyright and Intellectual Property for South Dakota

Q: Is it legally permissible to use text from a public domain book for commercial purposes?

I would like to use the text from a public domain book and print it onto fabric for a project I'm working on. Initially this was to be a personal project, but I'm considering the possibility of using the design for commercial purposes in the future and want to know if it is legal to use public domain books in this manner.

2 Lawyer Answers
Erik Špila
Erik Špila
  • Intellectual Property Lawyer
  • Senec, Slovakia

A: Yes, it should be legal in majority of countries if text is in public domain. Good luck with your project.

Steve Charles Vondran
Steve Charles Vondran pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Intellectual Property Lawyer
  • San Francisco, CA

A: In the United States, copyright law provides authors and other creators of original works with exclusive rights to their creations. Copyright protection prevents others from reproducing, distributing, or displaying copyrighted works without the permission of the copyright holder. This is an important protection for authors, as it ensures that their work is respected and their intellectual property remains secure.

However, copyright law does not always protect works that have fallen into the public domain. Public domain works are those that are no longer under copyright protection, either because their copyright has expired or the holder of the copyright has chosen to make the work available to the public. These works can be used freely by anyone, without fear of violating copyright law.

One use of public domain works is in the commercial sphere. Many companies and businesses make use of public domain works to produce products and services. For example, a company may use a public domain work to create a book, a movie, or another type of product. The company can then charge money for the product, thus profiting from the use of the public domain work.

So, is it legal to use text from a public domain book for commercial purposes? The answer is yes. Under United States copyright law, it is legal to use public domain works for commercial purposes. This includes using text from a public domain book for commercial purposes, such as creating a book, movie, or other product. The company or business that uses the public domain work should, however, consider properly attributing the work to its original author.

It is important to note that when using public domain works for commercial purposes, the user must ensure that the product or service does not infringe upon the rights of the original author. For example, if a company uses a public domain work to create a book, the company must ensure that the final product does not contain any copyrighted materials from the original work. If the company fails to do so, then the company can be held liable for copyright infringement.

This is general information only and not legal advice. See you at the top! Attorney Steve®

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