How long does a copyright remain in force?
The length of a copyright varies depending on the type of work, whether it has been published, and whether it was created by individual or was work-for-hire. In most countries, copyright protection is equal to the life of the author plus either 50 or 70 years.
The length and requirements for copyright can be changed by legislation. In addition, copyright laws can be updated to include protection for new types of original work (such as creation of software programs).
In the United States, copyright extends for a fixed number of years after the creation or publication date, then expires at year-end (i.e., on December 31). All copyrights for works published before 1923 have expired and the works are now in the public domain. Works published between 1923 and 1964 are in the public domain unless the copyright was renewed. Works published before 1978 without including the copyright notice (i.e., the word copyright or the copyright symbol © and the name of the copyright owner) are in the public domain. For works published after March 1, 1989, copyright notice is not required as a condition of establishing copyright protection.
In 1998, legislation was passed that prevents any new works from entering the public domain until 2019. Beginning that year, works published in 1923 will enter the public domain and this will continue in subsequent years for all works published between 1923 and 1977.
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