Some works of literature are public domain in the United States but not in the European Union and vice versa.
All copyrights and patents have always had a finite term, though the terms for copyrights and patents differ.
When terms expire, the work or invention is released into public domain. In most countries, the term for patents is 20 years.
A trademark registration may be renewed and remain in force indefinitely provided the trademark is used, but could otherwise become generic.
Copyrights are more complex than patents; generally, in current law, the copyright in a published work expires in all countries (except Colombia, Côte d'Ivoire, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Samoa, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) when any of the following conditions are satisfied :
- The work was created and first published before January 1, 1923, or at least 95 years before January 1 of the current year, whichever is later;
- The last surviving author died at least 70 years before January 1 of the current year;
- No Berne Convention signatory has passed a perpetual copyright on the work; and
- Neither the United States nor the European Union has passed a copyright term extension since these conditions were last updated. (This must be a condition because the exact numbers in the other conditions depend on the state of the law at any given moment.), according to WIkipedia.
British Law and copyright
British government works are restricted by either Crown Copyright or Parliamentary Copyright.
Published Crown Copyright works become public domain at the end of the year 50 years after they were published, unless the author of the work held copyright and assigned it to the Crown. In that case, the copyright term is the usual life of author plus 70 years, according to WIkipedia.
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Because proprietary rights (ownership) are founded in national laws, an item may be public domain in one jurisdiction (or country) but not another.
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