Material on our site can be broadly classified into two main types: i) historical public domain content, and ii) contemporary writing we publish in articles about this public domain content.
Reusing historical public domain content
As our name suggests, our project is focused on showcasing works that are in the public domain and so are free to reuse for any purpose, even commercially. If you want to reuse these works, there are two key factors to consider. The first is that, while we try to mostly feature works in the public domain worldwide, some may not be public domain in all countries. (Read more about variation in copyright terms). The second is that, while the underlying work itself may be free from copyright, the digital copy we feature can sometimes be subject to claims of additional copyright or restrictions on reuse. (Read more about rights on digital copies).
For the historical content found in the Collections part of our site, we communicate to the best of our knowledge the rights status of both the underlying work and the digital copy of this work. We provide this information based on a basic knowledge of copyright law and what is communicated by the source institution — it is strictly meant as a guideline and it should not be taken as legal advice. The historical material featured in our Essays series is not accompanied by rights labels, just links to the original source.
If reusing material for commercial purposes — from either our Collections or Essays section — it might be a good idea to further investigate any usage restrictions by clicking through to the source using the links provided.
Images we feature on the site will often have been edited by our team in an attempt to improve their aesthetic presentation. However, we assert no additional rights to these edited versions.
If reusing public domain material from our site then you are under no obligation to mention us, but we would really appreciate a mention and link back if practicable.
Every credit and link back to our site helps grow our audience and continue the project. If you are able, please do also consider donating to the project.
Reusing our articles
All unquoted text in our Collections posts, Curator’s Choice posts, and Conjectures posts are published under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 licence (CC BY-SA). While most of the pieces in our Essays series are also published under a CC BY-SA licence, some are published under more restrictive terms (usually the case for book excerpts) — please see information provided at the end of the essay for details. If published under a CC BY-SA licence, this means you can use this material for any purpose as long as you:
- attribute the original author
- attribute The Public Domain Review as the original source
- publish the piece under the same licence and include the following before the main body of the text begins:
- “This article / [Article Title] was originally published on The Public Domain Review [hyperlink to article on The Public Domain Review] under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0. If you wish to reuse it please see: https://publicdomainreview.org/reusing-material/”
- do not use the attribution requirement to suggest that we endorse or support a particular use of a work, or are engaged in a partnership
- do not put the piece, in original or translated form, behind a paywall
It would be great if you could let us know if you are reusing our material. It’s always good to learn how our work is being shared! If you are able, please do also consider donating to the project.
Requests for image permissions or image files
We receive emails every day seeking permission to use images found on our site or asking us to send high-resolution files of certain images. Please note, we do not assert rights relating to any of the historical images featured on the site and so are not in a position to grant permissions for use — please contact the original source institution (which we always link back to) if you need permissions or assurances of any sort regarding reuse of images. Due to the high number of emails we receive on this topic, we might not always be able to respond, apologies about this.
As for high-resolution image files, you can follow the links provided back to the original source and, if available, download higher-resolution versions directly, or, if you would like us to send high-resolution files of images featured on the site (which have often been edited by our team in an attempt to improve them), then we can send you a digital copy, if available, in exchange for a $10 donation to the project.
Provided rights info is a guideline only
The information we provide relating to rights and the usability of historical content is based on a basic working knowledge of copyright law and the information communicated by the source institution — it is strictly meant as a guideline only and it should not be taken as legal advice. We admit no responsibility for any untoward consequences that may arise through reuse of material featured on our site. If you believe that any guidance we have provided on the site is incorrect or out of date, then please do get in touch.