What are alternatives to copyright?

Materials that are not protected by copyright are said to be in the public domain. This generally applies to very old materials on which protection has expired, or works of the federal government, however the copyfree movement encourages creators to essentially donate their works to the public domain. Copyleft is similar, but requires all materials using a copyleft original as a starting place also to be distributed as copyleft.

A Creative Commons license, often seen as an anti-copyright movement, relies on the framework of copyright law, using it to create a broad set of licenses rather than many very specific ones.

Some artists, mainly in jewelry and metalwork, are applying for design patents rather than copyright protection on their work, but this is still fairly uncommon.