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Copyright Law Explained

How Long Does a Copyright Last

Generally, a copyrighted work is protected for the length of the author’s life plus another seventy years. In the case of joint works, copyright protection is granted for the length of the life of the last surviving joint author plus another 70 years. Works made for hire, as well as anonymous and pseudonymous works, are protected for a term of either 95 years from the year of first publication or 120 years from the year of creation, whichever is shorter. When the term of protection for a copyrighted work expires, the work enters into the public domain.

Note: If the work was created before 1978, the term of protection may be different. If you are trying to determine the term of protection for a work created before 1978 we suggest you review the Circular relating to term of protection published by the U.S. Copyright Office.

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