Public Domain

February 7, 2008 · Posted in Tools 

For those not familiar with United States Copyright Law, this post won’t help. I don’t really understand it. I do know that after some books get old they enter what is called the “Public Domain.” That basically means that the right to make and distribute copies belongs to everyone. That is why DVDs of old movies cost a dollar, and why the old classic books only cost a couple dollars when the new garbage costs 20 or 30. Basically you don’t have to pay the author, just the publisher and distributor. That says a lot about why some movies cost 30 dollars and some cost 1 dollar. As for books, well, I have to plug one of my favorite sources for reading material:

For those not familiar with, it is a place to find many of the public domain books. They are even starting one for music, where you can download the sheet music in the public domain. Gutenberg strives to create an etext for every public domain book. I have found some of my favorite books there, downloaded them and read them for free from my computer. Some of them come as pdfs ready to print if you prefer the printed type (although sometimes the book at Bookmans is cheaper than the paper). From gutenberg I stumbled upon (not using stumbleupon) a site called

For those not familiar with, it is a location to find ‘audio-books’ of the public domain titles found elsewhere (mainly on gutenberg). I do enjoy reading, but with the family, school, work, church, and work around the house I don’t have much time to read. I do have at least 30 minutes in the car each day, and some days a few hours, so I started downloading books from librivox to “read” while on the road. I find it absolutely wonderful.

For those not familiar with these websites, please know that they are run by volunteers. Gutenberg and Librivox are always looking for volunteers to edit, type, and record books. I have never had any issues with the accuracy of the text from Gutenberg. I have found some of the reading styles of people on librivox annoying (especially when a woman or man tries to imitate the vocal range of a character of the opposite sex, rendering the words nearly incomprehensible). For the most part, however, it is better than purchasing an audio book from a trained, professional reader.

For all those familiar with other wonderful websites such as these, where public domain material is available for the taking, please let me know, as I am likely unaware of them.

One last mention is, the location where all the gutenberg and librivox files are stored. Also the repository for many old movies/recordings/ads/propaganda/whatever old media should be archived. I have found some great old recordings and movies on there. It has software, books, and websites archived as well. Take a stroll back in time with


6 Responses to “Public Domain”

  1. Janet Thornton on February 12th, 2008 10:27 am

    This site was news to me. I looked around in it and watched a TV show about people in Hawaii getting fluent in the Hawaiian language again after it died out in one generation. Definitely something I would not have known without your help!
    The Mesa Public Library has a lot of e-books available and the appealing titles seem to be more easier to locate. I have listened to 1776 on CD and found that I couldn’t listen and do other things at the same very well, I needed to just listen to “get” it and not be working in the kitchen, etc. Now, in the car I would probably be just fine. But I don’t spend any time in the car. Maybe part of my problem with attention is that I m getting a little hard of hearing and I have to concentrate more, or maybe I need to have it in a CD player right into my ears. How do you listen?
    I love to check into y our blog once in a while and find something. It is great getting to know you better. I read Laurie’s really often and enjoy it…the homeschooling is nice. You have a wonderful family. -Janet

  2. Brian on February 12th, 2008 3:48 pm

    I typically listen to audiobooks while driving. I put the mp3s on a USB drive and plug it into my car radio. I think Laurie listens to them on her mp3 player, at least she did, I’m not sure if she still does.

    I agree…I do have a wonderful family!

  3. Laurie on February 12th, 2008 11:19 pm

    Why thank you! :)

    I like reading actual books the best, but for the audio ones, yep, it’s the mp3 player, in my ears, usually late at night, when all else is quiet…. I also have a couple of books on my Palm Pilot that I can read when I’m unexpectedly sitting idly somewhere. (Which isn’t very often, apparently! I’ve gotten through a few chapters of Emma in the last 6 months or so!) Usually I know when I’ll just be sitting somewhere, so I come prepared with a book!

  4. Laurie on February 12th, 2008 11:22 pm

    That last line of your post sounds like an old cheesy commercial. Hehehe…..

    I’ll look into these tomorrow if Victoria actually lets me do anything!

  5. Janet Thornton on February 13th, 2008 9:53 am

    Thanks for the advice. I have a minimal MP3 and my granddaughter has a nice one. Maybe she will let me try it out? In the meantime I will be looking around in the library catalog on line for a good audio book. Why are there so many interesting things to do? I just got started on a big family history project. _Janet

  6. Brian on February 13th, 2008 10:57 pm

    Laurie, I’m glad you think that, it was meant to sound like an old cheesy commercial :).

Leave a Reply