In The (Public) Domain

“The Domain surrounds the Royal Botanic Garden. In colonial times this land was the Governor’s buffer of privacy between his residence and the penal colony. Roads and paths were constructed through The Domain by 1831 to allow public access.
Since that time it has remained a place for the people.”
Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust

Public Domain – No Rights Reserved

Public Domain is work completely free of copyright laws. In all meanings it is public property.

The similarities between the issue of public domain and The Domain extend past their names. Looking at The Domain metaphorically and symbolically we can see a representation of public domain within its description. Public domain is a vast expanse, full of potential, and has the potential to be used as you want. It is open to everyone, the entire public, for any purpose. It can be anything, and at different times it is different things. We have Carols in The Domain, weddings, sports, personal and public events, commercial and noncommercial activities. Public domain can be any number of things, but it is always freely accessible.

Items in the public domain can often considered to be part of society’s heritage, especially cultural. The Domain is a part of Greater Sydney’s, NSW’s and Australia’s history, and that adds the reason why it should remain publicly accessible. Just like The Domain, public domain keeps our heritage open to the public for the public’s use.

Public Domain used to be the buffer between the public and the stringent laws of copyright. It used to be that a work or text was either under copyright or it wasn’t. And copyright had to be deliberately applied to a work to be enforceable, but now it is automatically allocated. Public domain still exists but it is a shrinking entity for the spread of copyright encroaches like the city looms over the park.

In some regards we could look at Creative Commons as the roads and paths that were put in for public access. They allowed the foundations to be formed, and led into what is now quite widely accessed by the public for all manner of reasons. But they have to be a concerted choice and it leaves the question of enforceable ownership in contention. While we can easily see private property as owned, areas like council owned properties, parks, national parks, parking lots all become shades of grey.

So while walking through the park, along the winding pathways, over the grass think about the Public Domain too. Is it necessary to have copyright as an automatic function to protect the creators’ works and right to ownership, or are we encroaching on space that really could be and should be easily publicly accessible?


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