Skip to main content

Project: Access to Knowledge

ESRC The value of the public domain project

Posted on    by Bartolomeo Meletti
Project: Access to KnowledgeProject: Public Domain

ESRC The value of the public domain project

By 2 February 2021June 25th, 2024No Comments

ESRC The value of the public domain project


This knowledge exchange scheme brings together academics (from the disciplines of law, media & communication studies, management and economics), policy makers from the Intellectual Property Office (an executive agency of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) and media businesses (in particular transmedia SMEs) to generate and disseminate new knowledge about the use of public domain works.

The high level aims of the scheme are to contribute to a better understanding of both direct and indirect value creation for UK firms and the wider economy, and thus lead to – better policy making, and more effective use of public domain materials by UK media companies.

The project is funded by the ESRC.


UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO), the ESRC (Grant ES/K008137/1) and CREATe


Principal Investigators:

Martin Kretschmer
Kris Erickson


Paul Heald
Fabian Homberg
Dinusha Mendis




Valuing the Public Domain resource page provides a gateway to the project and its findings.

Project Report and Academic Outputs:

Erickson, K., Heald, P., Homberg, F., Kretschmer, M., and Mendis, D. (2015) Copyright and the Value of the Public Domain: An Empirical Assessment. Project Report. UK Intellectual Property Office, Newport. pp. 1-81.

Erickson, K., and Kretschmer, M. (2014) Research Perspectives on the Public Domain: Digital Conference Proceedings. CREATe Working Paper 2014/3, pp. 1-58.

Heald, P. J., Erickson, K., and Kretschmer, M. (2015) The valuation of unprotected works: a case study of public domain photographs on Wikipedia. Harvard Journal of Law and Technology, 29(1), pp. 1-32.

Erickson, K. (2016) Defining the public domain in economic terms – approaches and consequences for policyEtikk i praksis: Nordic Journal of Applied Ethics 2016(1), pp. 61-74.

Erickson, K., and Kretschmer, M. (2019) An Empirical Approach to the Public Domain. Chapter 4 (pp. 87-116) in J. Drexl and A. Kamperman Sanders (Eds.)  The Innovation Society and Intellectual Property, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar

Media Coverage:

Fortune (2015) ‘Free’ Wikipedia photos worth at least $246 million a year, study says. 29th June, 2015.

WIPO (2015) New Study: Use of Public Domain Images on Wikipedia Worth Millions of Dollars Each Year. World Intellectual Property Organization Media Center, 22nd June, 2015.

Maurel, L. (2015) Quelle est la valeur économique du domaine publique? S.I.Lex Blog, 19th April, 2015.

Ciciora, P. (2015) Absence of copyright has its own economic, social benefits. news wire, 14th April, 2015.

Wikimedia (2015) Excessive copyright terms proven to be a cost for society. Research Newsletter Vol 5, Issue 4. April 2015.

Erickson, K. (2015) A Healthy Public Domain Generates Millions in Economic Value – Not Bad for ‘Free’.  The Conversation, 25th March, 2015.

Ouellette, L. (2015) More on Valuing the Public Domain. Written Description Blog, 5th March 2015.

Reda, J. (2015) New Copyright and the Public Domain. Presentation. Towards a new legislation on Intellectual Property in the digital single market, European Parliament, 3rd March, 2015. (2015) Wieviel ist freies Wissen wert? Schätzung am Beispiel des Bildbestands der Wikipedia. 6th February, 2015.

Phillips, J. (2015) How much are Wikipedia’s public domain photos worth? IPKat Blog, 4th February, 2015.

CREATe Blog (2014) Research Perspectives on the Public Domain. Transcript, Slide Presentations and other Media. 24th January, 2014.