An overview for educators


The earlier pages in this module have explained how work is automatically copyrighted by the very act of creating it in some physical/digital form. So if everything that has been created is copyrighted then how do we ever share anything?

Public Domain
If a piece of work is either no longer covered by intellectual property rights (copyright and patents for example), or was created prior to copyright laws (thus was never covered) then it is in the public domain. Works in the public domain can be freely adapted, copied or otherwise used without any form of restriction.

CopyLeft (non-permissive)
A number of licensing systems have been created to allow authors to use copyright law to express their desire for their works to be shared. The best known examples are probably Creative Commons and the GNU General Public License (GPL). While these licenses often allow people a lot of flexibility to use copyrighted material, they also reserve ownership and place restrictions around how the material shared can be used.

CopyCenter (permissive)
This is a term used to describe licenses that places no restrictions on future licensing of copies or derivatives of the original work. The BSD licenses are the best known.

Copyright (exclusive rights)
For the sake of completeness for this list I will restate that copyright protects the rights of the author and provides near exclusive rights to the original author or the person/entity that they have transferred those rights to.