When Public Domain is Not Public Domain

When Getty tries to license it...

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shuttlecockimageWhile there are plenty of works that there are legitimate debates about whether or not they are public domain, there are many that there is no such debate because the creator dedicated the work to it.

But the public domain is a funny thing. Others can and do make unexpected uses of public domain works. Something a creator has to consider before dedicating their work to it.

Still, imagine the surprise of Carol Highsmith when she received a threat letter from a stock photo company over an image that she not only took, but that she dedicated to the public domain.

That has spawned one of the most unusual, but possibly most important, copyright lawsuits of all time. It’s also shined the light on some of Getty Images’ business practices, namely the licensing and threatening over public domain images.

So, should there be boundaries for what you can do with public domain works? What can a creator do when their public domain work is misused? We explore these issues and more in this video.

 

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