The Creative Commons announced the release of its Public Domain Mark 1.0 (PDM) yesterday in an effort to help identify works on the Internet that are free of known copyright restrictions. The aim of the PDM is to assist teachers, students, artists, writers, and that aunt of yours that always asks if it is alright to post a Van Gogh painting on her website, in knowing what works are free from copyright restrictions.

Creative Commons already has one big PDM contributor on board. Europena – Europe’s digital library, museum and archive – announced that it will work with Creative Commons on labeling works on its portal with the PDM symbol where that work is free of all known copyright restrictions. It seems to be the goal of Creative Commons to get more trusted participants to use this mark to help the public quickly know what works they can use without having to ask permission.

Hopefully, over time, more and more repositories of public domain works will adopt the PDM symbol in order to help the public understand that that specific work can be used, modified and distributed without the worry of someone or some organization coming after you later. Of course, my personal advice is that if you see this symbol on a piece of work that you use your own judgement to determine if the person or organization labeling the work with the PDM is trustworthy. If Europena or the National Archives places the mark on a piece of work – it’s most likely outside of copyright protection. However, if “Bob’s Blog” throws it up on a piece of work – you might want to verify that it really is in the Public Domain before relying completely on Bob’s opinion.

Here are the guidelines of the Public Domain Mark 1.0:

No Copyright

  • This work has been identified as being free of known restrictions under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights.

    You can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission. See Other Information below.
  • Other Information
    • The work may not be free of known copyright restrictions in all jurisdictions.
    • Persons may have other rights in or related to the work, such as patent or trademark rights, and others may have rights in how the work is used, such as publicity or privacy rights.
    • In some jurisdictions moral rights of the author may persist beyond the term of copyright. These rights may include the right to be identified as the author and the right to object to derogatory treatments.
    • Unless expressly stated otherwise, the person who identified the work makes no warranties about the work, and disclaims liability for all uses of the work, to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law.
    • When using or citing the work, you should not imply endorsement by the author or the person who identified the work.