Finding Free Books and Public Domain Literature


Public Domain, Free Use and Copyleft Media

It feels good to get free stuff. In fact that’s probably why many of us get on the Web in the first place. But behind the usual blogs and Web sites lies untold fortunes of free-use content, all available for you to use legally and with a clean conscience. All the resources you need are there, whether to explore literature spanning the human experience or to find thousands of photos to spice up any project. There are even sites to help you understand all the copyright snags you might encounter along the way.

Definitions of Public Domain, Fair Use, and Copyleft

There are hordes of that ubiquitous stuff called "content" on the Web for the taking. ... read more »

Finding Free Content Online

Ideally all the free-use content in the world would be accessible and searchable from one massive ... read more »

Public Domain Photos and Other Free-Use Images

With the spread of digital cameras, everyone has become a photographer-and photographers love to ... read more »

Finding Free Books and Public Domain Literature

Though visual and audio media certainly rule the Web these days in terms of sheer quantity, there's still plenty of literary and textual content to be had online. A veritable race is on to get the last few thousands years of written language input and uploaded, and the options for how to navigate this growing body of revived literature are many. All literature written before 1923, and much of it since, is in the public domain. Furthermore, much of the textual content online is available as free-use material. These sites will help you find that morsel of language or feast of philology you crave.

Dulcinea's Insight

  • Photography is new, the written word is old. The online community is playing catch-up when it comes to literature, so patience is sometimes needed. If you can't find what you want, chances are it will be online soon.
  • Many new organizations and sites dedicated to putting literature online are in their infancy, and the next few years promise quick growth in the list of useful sites.
  • Often the copyright status of a book or eBook can be hard to decipher. The original text can be in the public domain, but a certain translation or edition may not be. Err on the side of caution when copying text, but if it's an original version of something before 1923 you can be confident it's in the public domain in the United States.
  • The Internet Archive, featured in the "Where can I search all free-use content?" section of this guide, also has an impressive number of library catalogs within its text tab.

Dulcinea's Picks

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Public Domain Music and Free Audio Downloads

The Internet is a noisy place, with many audio offerings such as sound effects, midi clips and ... read more »

Free-Use Video and Film

With the proliferation of broadband access, digital video recorders like TiVo, and the massive ... read more »

The Free-Use Movement

Now that you've seen what the free-use world has to offer, you might want to get more involved ... read more »

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