Abandonment of Copyright Law and Legal Definition

Abandonment of copyright or dedication to the public domain occurs when a copyright owner intentionally gives up copyright protection for a work. When the copyright in a work is abandoned by the owner it enters the public domain. Thus, s/he no longer owns any exclusive rights in the work and cannot bring a claim of copyright infringement against anyone who makes use of the work.

The courts are of the view that rights gained under the Copyright Law may be abandoned. Abandonment of such rights, however, must be manifested by some overt act indicative of a purpose to surrender the rights and allow the public to copy. [Hampton v. Paramount Pictures Corp., 279 F.2d 100 (9th Cir. Cal. 1960)]