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Copyright at Bishop's University: Open Access & Public Domain

A guide for faculty, staff, and students

What is the Public Domain?

Works no longer covered by copyright are said to be in the public domain. That means that anyone can use or distribute these works without payment to or permission from a copyright holder.

In Canada, works are protected by copyright for 50 years after the author's death. In the case of translated works, the work enters the public domain 50 years after the death of both the author AND the translator. In the case of dramatic or musical works, copyright expires 50 after the death of the creator. In cases of multiple creators copyright expires 50 years after the death of the last surviving creator.

If a work is not protected by copyright, then it may be freely used and distributed.

Remember that works in the public domain still need to be cited if used in a research paper or other academic or creative work.

Open Access Resources

Open Access resources are free to the public and generally not covered by Library or Copibec licenses. These resources may have their own license or use a Creative Commons license, though these are often less restrictive than licenses for proprietary works. The following is a list of some prominent open access resources:

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