Is CC0 the same as public domain?

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Post by jillebean » August 2nd, 2015, 2:29 pm

Hello all.

TriciaG suggested I bring this LibriVox Facebook discussion over to the forum...

I had posted a link ( about additional images being released with a CC0 license from the Walter Art Museum. When I read that CC0 is called "No Copyright" I assumed it was essentially the same as public domain and that people creating album covers for LV would be able to use this large set of images.

Then the public domainedness of CC0 was questioned. I looked into it a little more and see that there might be some differences but, as with all copyright legalese, it's a bit challenging to wrap your head around. Does anyone out there in LV-land know if we can use CC0-licensed images the same as we use public domain?



ETA: Here's the web page that describes the CC0 license: I see that at the top of it it is labeled "Public Domain Designation" which sounds promising.
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Post by ScottLawton » August 2nd, 2015, 5:14 pm

From that page: "The person who associated a work with this deed has dedicated the work to the public domain.."

I'm neither a lawyer nor an admin ... but IMHO CC0 items are 100% acceptable for images or source text.

To understand the context, it's worth a look at the problem that CC0 was designed to solve: "Dedicating works to the public domain is difficult if not impossible for those wanting to contribute their works for public use before applicable copyright or database protection terms expire. Few if any jurisdictions have a process for doing so easily and reliably."

for more background:

Edit: Here's another way to understand the role of CC0.
- a pre-1923 book entered the public domain because the copyright restrictions expired
- a CC0 item enters the public domain when the owner of that item relinquishes their rights and chooses that license. It's a fancy way of saying "I put this into the public domain", but expressed in terms that are designed to be legally clear across multiple jurisdictions (and defensible if ever required).

(I have nothing to do with Creative Commons; I'm just an interested observer.)

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Post by dlolso21 » August 3rd, 2015, 12:07 am

You can use any image that they own and designate as CC0.

However, according to this pages ( and, not everything that you can view on their website will be CC0.
Exceptions to the CC0 license may apply to works of art that are under the Walters' temporary jurisdiction, such as loaned works, and works that are not in the public domain due to age. The policy governing the CC0 license does not apply to works protected by artists' copyright, by privacy rights, or that are otherwise restricted.
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Post by annise » August 3rd, 2015, 12:20 am

When I checked I came across a " you must acknowledge the artist one so I assumed they all were. We do acknowledge the artist on the cd cover one but not on the other 2 and anyone can and does use our coverart all over the place.


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