Copyright Term Reform/Phrases To Use

< Copyright Term Reform

Phrase to avoid:

A work “slips into” the public domain. This suggests that the process is uncontrolled, dangerous, accidental, unwanted.


  • A work is placed in the public domain (which suggests an active choice that the work become public)
  • A work “returns to” the public domain (because copyright is a privilege granted by the government)
  • A work enters the public domain (the simple, neutral variant)
  • A work becomes freely available (without referencing public domain explicitly)
  • A work rises into the public domain.

Debated phrases:

  • A work “passes into” the public domain (because it suggests a passive, eternal resting state as in “passes on”)

Although keyed to software and maybe reflecting a somewhat extreme point of view, the following well-known page from the FSF is a must-read:

TakeDown.NET -> “Copyright-Term-Reform/Phrases-To-Use