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Dance Program - Copyright: Music: Public Domain

Suggested Web pages - CC Licensed Music, Free to Use

Suggested Web pages - CC Licensed Music, Affordable Purchase

Suggested Webpages - Public Domain Music

Suggested Webpages - Royalty Free, Free to Download Loops and Samples

Public Domain

Creative materials that are not protected by intellectual property laws like copyright or trademarks are in the public domain. The public owns these works, not an individual author or artist. Anyone can use a public domain work without permission.

There are four common ways that works arrive in the public domain:

  • the copyright has expired
  • the copyright owner failed to follow copyright renewal rules
  • the copyright owner deliberately places it in the public domain, known as “dedication,” or
  • copyright law does not protect this type of work.


Any Song or Musical Work Published in 1922 or earlier is in the Public Domain in the USA.  Cornell University has a comprehensive list of when works are available in the public domain.

No Sound Recordings are Public Domain in the USA due to very complex Federal and State Laws.  What does that mean? You can find free music to use if available with a Creative Commons License but other sound recordings will not be available in the public domain.  However song or music (think lyrics and sheet music) can be available in the public domain. So if you are musically inclined you can create a sound recording using the music available in the public domain.