public domain

noun Law.
1.
the status of a literary work or an invention whose copyright or patent has expired or that never had such protection.
2.
land owned by the government.

Origin:
1825–35, Americanism

public-domain, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
public domain
 
n
1.  (US) lands owned by a state or by the federal government
2.  the status of a published work or invention upon which the copyright or patent has expired or which has not been patented or subject to copyright. It may thus be freely used by the public
3.  in the public domain able to be discussed and examined freely by the general public

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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FOLDOC
Computing Dictionary

public domain definition


(PD) The total absence of copyright protection. If something is "in the public domain" then anyone can copy it or use it in any way they wish. The author has none of the exclusive rights which apply to a copyright work.
The phrase "public domain" is often used incorrectly to refer to freeware or shareware (software which is copyrighted but is distributed without (advance) payment). Public domain means no copyright -- no exclusive rights. In fact the phrase "public domain" has no legal status at all in the UK.
See also archive site, careware, charityware, copyleft, crippleware, guiltware, postcardware and -ware. Compare payware.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010 http://foldoc.org
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Example sentences
Pretty much anything public domain is available and free.
The public domain has been cheated for years by ill-advised expansions of
  intellectual property rights.
If a company doesn't vigorously defend it's intellectual property, it quickly
  belongs to the public domain.
There are websites where you can download free audio books from the public
  domain.
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