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Public Domain

Posted: Wed May 24, 2017 12:04 pm
by Lumberjack
If I offer an image to a Pubic Domain CCO site and it is rejected, does it remain in the public domain simply because I offered it, or does the rejection count as if it were never even offered in the first place, copyright remaining with me?

Posted: Wed May 24, 2017 1:38 pm
by AndyJ
Hi lumberjack,

A Creative Commons licence is just that - a licence. You retain the copyright at all times, and so if an offer of a licence is not taken up, then effectively the status quo ante applies.

It would be somewhat different if you had offered the image and it had been accepted, and subsequently used by a number of other people in good faith. You wouldn't then have the discretion to rescind the licence from those people or others who in turn had used the image as the result of it cascading down the CC0 route.

If you issue an image with a conditional CC licence, such as BY or ND, and a user fails to comply with the relevant stipulations, they can be sued, although it goes somewhat against the spirit of the Creative Commons ethos to get heavy with people in this way! Generally litigation is reserved for those who transgress the NC licence, although there are issues over exactly which activities need to be 'non-commercial'.

Posted: Wed May 24, 2017 2:36 pm
by Lumberjack
On the site I am talking about, rejected images remain visible to the public for about a week after rejection, so they could be downloaded at that stage. Someone asked if the rejected ones were in the Public Domain, and the site said yes they are, but I felt that if they had not been accepted, they should revert to not being in the public domain. It didn't bother me at all, as I had only submitted about a dozen images that really meant nothing to me anyway. Most of them got rejected, and I really don't care whether they are public domain or not, but others may see it differently.

Posted: Wed May 24, 2017 4:26 pm
by AndyJ
The problem lies with the term 'public domain'. Copyright purists only use the words to describe the situation where work was either never subject to copyright (eg works produced by the US Federal government) or where the term of copyright has expired. Works released under licence are still covered by copyright, so describing them as being in the 'public domain' gives a misleading picture (excuse the pun).