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How Long Does My Copyright Last?

Copyright protection endures for the life of the author plus 70 years (for works created after 1978).  Works made for hire, or works “authored” by an entity like a corporation, last for 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is shorter.

If you are a professional artist, author, musician, photographer, etc., and you work for yourself, you should consider holding copyright in your own name. If your company holds the copyright, you might want to license your works to your company instead – doing so would prolong their protected life.

Works created prior to 1978, such as old photos, are subject to somewhat different rules. Those works are given an initial term of 28 years. At the expiration of the first term, the copyright owner needed to file a renewal registration. The rules are more complicated for older unpublished works. I won’t go into those here since this is a primer, not a law school course.

After the term of copyright protection expires, your work will pass into the public domain (but that is a long way off).

Back to the #Copyright overview.

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