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How To Find Public Domain Works with Google


Question: How To Find Public Domain Works with Google
What are public domain works, and how can you find them on the Web?

Public domain works are works whose copyrights were issued before 1923, and have now passed into the public domain, meaning that they can be used, reproduced, or incorporated in any way without any restrictions. Permission and/or usage grants are not required in order to use these public domain materials. In addition, most U.S. government documents are considered public domain, unless specifically marked. Note: Check carefully before using public domain works, especially if they originate outside the United States. Each country's policy on public domain works is different.

How to Use Google to Find Public Domain Works

There are a number of different searches you can plug in to Google to find public domain works. Use the following simply as suggestions. You can append whatever subject you're looking for either in front or following the phrase in quotes, i.e., boating laws "public domain". Quotes should be used around these phrases in order to bring back accurate results (see Looking for a Specific Phrase? Use Quotation Marks).

  • "public domain"
  • "this document is in the public domain"
  • "this text is in the public domain"
  • "this information is in the public domain"
  • "this page is in the public domain"
  • site:.edu "not copyrighted"
  • site:.edu "public domain"
  • site:.gov "not copyrighted"
  • site:.gov "public domain"
  • site:.org "not copyrighted"
  • site:.org "public domain"

You can also use Google Scholar to find public domain works. Go to the Advanced Scholar Search, and in the Date/Return articles published between field, type in 1923 in the second date box. This will return public domain works (again, be sure to double check each piece of content to make sure that it does indeed fall under public domain).

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