How long do copyrights last?
Generally speaking, the duration of copyright protection depends upon when the work was created. For better or worse, the length of copyright
has extended several times in the last 100 years. As a result, there are quite a few different lengths of time that a work can be protected for. Check out our handy reference chart
explaining copyright duration based on the year a work was made/published.
This is even more complicated because there’s a difference between the expiration date of published and unpublished works.
That said, there are three basic situations when a work is created today that you should understand.
Sole Authorship - Life of the author plus 70 years.
Joint Authorship - LIfe of the longest living author plus 70 years.
Works of Corporate Authorship - 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever expires first.
Again, for works that were already created, please refer to this chart
If you have questions about whether a work in the public domain, how long a specific work’s copyright will last, or how long the copyright in your own work will last, feel free to contact New Media Rights via our contact form to find out whether you qualify for free or reduced fee legal services. We also offer competitive full fee legal services on a selective basis. For more information on the services we provide click here.
Frequently asked questions about how long copyright protection lasts
This guide was created with support from the CCPF - California Consumer Protection Foundation