A review of the history of the term “public domain” shows that it has traditionally been associated
with public land and has never had a universally accepted meaning in the context of information.
Indeed, there is little in official public documents or even in the scholarly literature that deals
definitively with this subject. Most legal scholars would define public domain information by what
it is not; that is, any information that is not proprietary, the yin to the proprietary yang. But such a
definition is insufficient, for it does not adequately characterize or describe what public domain
information in fact is, and provides no basis on which to evaluate its positive role and its value to
knowledge societies, especially in the context of economic and social development.
The UNESCO Recommendation on Promotion and Use of Multilingualism and Universal
Access to Cyberspace provides the following definition: “Public domain information refers to
publicly accessible information, the use of which does not infringe any legal right, or any obligation
of confidentiality. It thus refers on the one hand to the realm of all works or objects of related rights,
which can be exploited by everybody without any authorization, for instance because protection is
not granted under national or international law, or because of the expiration of the term of
protection. It refers on the other hand to public data and official information Produced and
voluntarily made available by governments or international organizations.”
Under this definition, information in the public domain covers two distinct notions: On the one hand, “public domain information” can be defined as what is left outside the scope of any form of statutory protection including intellectual property rights, the protection of national security or public order, privacy laws and obligations of confidentiality. (Text taken from UNESCO Policy Guidelines for Governmental Public Information contributed by Paul F. Uhlir) full text link
Free Access to Law Movement is an outcome of Montreal Declaration during Law Via Internet Conference held at Montreal in 2002.
Legal information institutes of the world, meeting in Montreal, declare that:
Public legal information means legal information produced by public bodies that have a duty to produce law and make it public. It includes primary sources of law, such as legislation, case law and treaties, as well as various secondary (interpretative) public sources, such as reports on preparatory work and law reform, and resulting from boards of inquiry. It also includes legal documents created as a result of public funding.
Publicly funded secondary (interpretative) legal materials should be accessible for free but permission to republish is not always appropriate or possible. In particular free access to legal scholarship may be provided by legal scholarship repositories, legal information institutes or other means. (Text taken from : Declaration on Free Access to Law Full Text Link)
BOAI10 Recommendations, 2012
SCOAP3 (Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics), 2014
Department of Biotechnology and Department of Science & Technology Open Access Policy for access to DBT and DST Funder Research, Government of India, December, 2014.
Re3data.org (Registry of Research Data Repositories), 2015