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Copyright - Quick and Easy: Copyright Timeline & Public Domain

This libguide will provide quick answers to the how-tos of understanding copyright. This guide includes forms, contact information and necessary tools for understanding basic copyright.

Duration of Copyright

These tools may help identify when your material was published and copyrighted; as well as renewed in its copyright (If applicable). You may also find information on the length of protection.

What is Public Domain

If a work is within the public domain, there are no ownership rights associated it.

Anyone may reproduce, redistribute, or adapt the work and there is no longer a need to seek permission for its use.

This particular statute does not define public domain, but does explain the conditions necessary for copyright protection, the types of works that are eligible for protection, the rights of copyright holders and the exceptions to these exclusive rights.

It will be 2019 before anything else enters the public domain.

Length of Protection

DATE OF WORK PROTECTED FROM    TERM
Created 1-1-78 or after When work is fixed in tangible medium of expression Life + 70 years or if work of corporate authorship, the shorter of 95 years from publication, or 120 years from creation

Published before 1923

In public domain  None
Published from 1923 - 63 When published with notice 28 years + could be renewed for 47 years, now extended by 20 years for a total renewal of 67 years. If not so renewed, now in public domain
Published from 1964 - 77 When published with notice 28 years for first term; now automatic extension of 67 years for second term
Created before 1-1-78 but not published 1-1-78, the effective date of the 1976 Act which eliminated common law copyright Life + 70 years or 12-31-2002, whichever is greater
Created before
1-1-78 but published between then and 12-31-2002
1-1-78, the effective date of the 1976 Act which eliminated common law copyright Life + 70 years or 12-31-2047

Subject Guide

Joy Dlugosz's picture
Joy Dlugosz
Contact:
Librarian for Public Service, Administration & Research

Warner Memorial Library
1300 Eagle Road
St. Davids, PA 19087
610-225-5660