Public domain works are not restricted by copyright and do not require a license or fee to use. Public domain works may be used freely by everyone.
There are three main categories of public domain works:
(* Use of some works, such as ideas and symbols, may be restricted by other laws, such as patent, trademark, or trade secret.)
As a general rule, most works enter the public domain because of old age. This includes any work published in the United States before 1923. Another large block of works are in the public domain because they were published before 1964 and copyright was not renewed. (Renewal was a requirement for works published before 1978.)
In general, works published after 1977 will not fall into the public domain until 70 years after the death of author, or, for corporate works, anonymous works, or works for hire, 95 years from the date of publication or 120 years from the date of creation, whichever expires first.
Use the Copyright Slider Tool to determine if a work is still procotected by Copyright.