Public Domain and Web Design

Learner Description: This page was created for adult learners wishing to learn more about public domain.

When creating your own work on a web site other web designers are free to roam and view your hard work. The questions as a designer become who can use your work? How can they use your work? What can they use from your work? As a designer we must be acutely aware of the implications of what is accessible and what is owned by someone else.

What exactly is public domain? Public domain concerns web designers by mere use of any item on their web site. For example you want to tie in a song or video to your web site and give it some pizzazz, it is your responsibility to make sure the song or video can be used freely and without permission from the owner. Most importantly, the work in question is not protected by copyright.

The You Tube video I have selected is from Charlie Chaplin circa 1914. It is Charlie Chaplin's first film appearance. The comic legend has his own problems when he runs afoul of the Keystone Kop's. I hope you enjoy his comedy as much as I do! As you answer some of the questions in the scavenger hunt consider how this movie was released to be in the public domain and how lucky we are to have it.

Scavenger Hunt Activity: Public Domain

I have designed a scavenger hunt to answer these questions along with similar questions to what is accessible through public domain. I have provided links to assist you in your quest. Just click on the links and then search the web site to find the answer. When you are finished with the questions check the answer key to see how you faired in the world of public domain!

Please download the worksheet document to fill in your answers. [Worksheet Document]

All links will open in a new window browser.

Hunt Questions:

  1. What are 2 reasons a document can be included in Public Domain?
  2. How many years after a single author’s death will the copyright expire? Give an example.
  3. What 4 certain items does copyright NOT protect?
  4. Can you use Public Domain works that are modified? Why?
  5. Can accurate photographs of 2 dimensional visual art works be included in Public Domain? Why?
  6. Name 3 search engines that are available to search for Public Domain.
  7. If you use Wikipedia and you want to upload an image, what must you consider before doing so?
  8. What is the purpose of building an Internet Archive?
  9. What types of formats are included in the archives?
  10. What is the "way-back machine"?

Web Sites for the public domain hunt:

© 2009, Lora Evanouski
Boise State University, Department of Educational Technology