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Copyright and Permissions: Public Domain

Welcome! This guide provides information and resources on copyright law in Lebanon and internationally. The guide emphasizes on how copyright law relates to academic activities such as research, teaching, and publishing.

What is Public Domain?

The term “public domain” refers to creative and intellectual works that are not protected by intellectual property laws such as copyright, trademark, or patent laws. These works are open for access and usage by the public without obtaining permission.

Works can become in the public domain under any of the following conditions:

  • the copyright duration or term has expired
  • the copyright owner dedicated the work to public use
  • the copyright owner placed it in the public domain using the Creative Commons license 
  • the work is of a type that does not qualify for copyright protection.
Works in the public domain can be copied, shared, distributed and translated by any person for free and without the need to seek anyone’s permission
The only role of the copyright in this domain is to maintain the author's moral right: preserve the integrity of their work and the be properly cited.

Scope of the public domain differs from country to country depending on the duration of copyright protection.

Public Domain Manifesto (opening with: the Public Domain is the rule, copyright protection is the exception) developed within the COMMUNIA network, it provides some recommendations that are applicable across the spectrum of copyright, and are of particular relevance to education, cultural heritage and scientific research.

Public Copyright License

Public copyright license options fill the gap between "all rights reserved" copyright and the public domain (no copyright protection). Popular open licensing mechanisms, such as Creative Commons (CC), allow creators, remixers, and content users to quickly and easily understand how they can legally use and adapt other people's work. More

Copyright Duration

The economic rights are of limited duration beginning with the creation and fixation of the work, and lasting for not less than 50 years after the creator’s death (Berne). This term enables both creators and their heirs and successors to benefit financially for a reasonable period of time. Copyright duration varies from a country to the other:

  • Under current U.S. law, copyright lasts until 70 years after the death of the author. 
  • Lebanon and the majority of Arab countries protect books for the lifetime of the author plus 50 years after his/her death.
  • Copyright duration varies from a country to the other