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The public domain comprises the body of knowledge and innovation (especially creative works such as writing, art, music, and inventions) in relation to which no person or other legal entity can establish or maintain proprietary interests.
This body of information and creativity is considered to be part of the common cultural and intellectual heritage of humanity, which in general anyone may use or exploit.
If an item is not in the public domain, this may be the result of a proprietary interest as represented by a copyright or patent. The extent to which members of the public may use or exploit an item in relation to which proprietary interests exist is generally limited. However, when copyright or other intellectual property restrictions expire, works will enter the public domain and may be used by anyone. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_domain [Jul 2005]
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