Monday, December 14, 2015

Do I Have to Provide Attribution for a Public Domain Work?

altered PD photo from "The Art of Orange Peeling" (1905)
Dear Rich: Must attribution be given for the reproduction of Public Domain (PD) works? In other words, is there anything stopping one from 'rehashing' an ancient PD text into an entire website or a series of blog posts, all without attribution? What if the reproducer were to add and edit the PD work, inserting images and replacing "thou" and "thee" for the more modern alternatives? We won't comment on the ethics of claiming authorship of public domain works -- but you're free to do so, thanks in part, to the Supreme Court. Of course, if you're adding new material to a PD work -- for example, photos, music, or text -- you'd need permission of the copyright owner of the new material.