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Any substantive edit to this page should reflect consensus. For all practical purposes on Wikipedia, the public domain comprises copyright-free works: anyone can use them in any way and for any purpose.
Proper attribution to the author or source of a work, even if it is in the public domain, is still required in order to comply with relevant policies.
While the facts themselves are exempt, other creative elements in a compilation of facts may warrant copyright protection. Card Prices Update established that the specific selection of which facts to include in a list, when done as the result of a creative act, merits protection even when the individual elements do not.
(See also 17 USC 103(b).) The WIPO Copyright Treaty is an international treaty that follows this concept; it has been adopted also by the European Union (EU) in its EU Database Directive, a sui generis protection that prohibits any significant "extraction" or "re-utilization" of information from a database created by significant effort.
In the US, the classic example is a telephone directory.
Lower federal and state courts have varied on whether other forms of law, beyond judicial decisions, can be copyrighted.
Since copyright protection is automatic and doesn't require registration with the Copyright Office, their position may not be authoritative in a court of law, so the copyright status of laws (including laws incorporating copyrighted works by third-parties, eg.
building codes) remains unclear until settled by the US Supreme Court. Most other countries’ governments do hold copyrights, and their works are copyright protected.
However, one should bear in mind that some paragraphs of the Berne Convention are optional, and that any country may go beyond the minimum standards specified by the Berne Convention for the most part.
There are some other documents related to copyright issues that one occasionally comes across, but they are generally less important for Wikipedia's purposes.