The Public Domain - 4th Edition
208 / Nolo
Review by Kathy Parsons
Reading about The Public Domain and copyright law sounds as interesting as watching paint dry, but this incredibly well-written reference book is readable and comprehendible to individuals without any legal background; it is also complete enough for the more experienced researcher. I freelance in both the music and the fine arts fields and run my own website, so I found a wealth of useful information in this book. There is a whole treasure trove of material in the public domain that is available for use for free by anyone - a lot more than I ever would have imagined. The book opens up this world while advising what you can and cannot do with public domain material and how to tell if a work is in the public domain. The chapters are well-organized and very concise, making finding help on the fly easy. I read the first six chapters (about a third of the book) like a novel and then skipped around; it was consistently fascinating. Citing actual legal cases and giving clear examples and tips, this is likely the most comprehensive book on the subject available. The art forms that are covered are writing, music, art, photography, movies and television, computer software, architecture, maps, choreography, databases and collections, and titles. Obviously some of the information overlaps with each art form, but that means that you can go to your specific field of interest and still have the complete information you seek without having to keep flipping to other chapters. The last several chapters cover restored copyrights, the public domain outside the US, the internet and the public domain, aspects of copyright protection, traps, and research tips. Anyone working in any of the arts should have a copy of this remarkable book for reference. It could save us all a lot of time and money!
December 16, 2008