Imagine finding a great vintage content that you want to commercially use. The first thing that you must ask yourself is whether the material belong to the Public Domain. Because if it does, then you can simply do whatever you want to do with it. No one will be offended and you will not be sued. But if it does not, then you need to trace, contact and ask permission from the material owner in order to avoid legal liabilities. The permission may be free or may come with a price tag.
Public Domain Investigation
Since there is no comprehensive centralized database of Public Domain materials that you can inquire from, you need to do some Sherlock-type investigations to determine the copyright status of the media in interest. Part of which is to determine 6 critical facts that will help you to identify the copyright status of any work.
Here are the 6 Facts that you Need to Establish to Determine the Copyright Status:
1. Date of Creation
2. Date Registered to the US Copyright Office
3. Date of First Publication
4. Location of First Publication
5. Presence of a Valid Copyright Notice when Published
6. Date of Application for Copyright Renewal
These 6 basic information are the critical indicators of how to determine is any work can be classified under the open source content category. Knowing them will save you a lot of suffering and money that would usually come from legal disputes regarding copyright infringements. Make sure that you clearly establish them as they will help you in your content hunting activities.