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Duration of Copyright Protection

 

Copyright protection occurs and applies automatically on creation. However, it does not last forever.

  • For work created on or after January 1, 1978 - copyrighted work is protected for your lifetime plus 50 years.
  • Works created before January 1, 1978 - are subject to different rules.
    • Correctly configured copyrights have copyright protection for 75 years from the date the copyright was obtained.
    • Work that is anonymous or pseudonymous, or done for hire - cpyright protection lasts for a total of 75 years from its first publication, or 100 years from its creation, whichever is shorter. Exception: If an anonymous or pseudonymous author's identity is revealed during the term of the copyright, the term changes to the life of the author plus 50 years.

Public Domain

When the term of protection expires, the work goes into the public domain, which simply means that the copyright protection no longer applies, and anyone may use the work for any purpose, commerical or otherwise, without payment.

 

Selling Copyrights

A creator may sell the rights to their copyrighted works. The normal vehicle is by using a "license" or 'rights license'. This agreement will specify the extend of the right to use.

You may sell total rights to copy your work, or specific rights restricted by:

  • Usage
  • Market
  • Language
  • Media format
  • Term

You may also grant free or partial use of your copyright without fee. This is referred to as a "Commons License". This type of use normally requires acknowledgement of the author, inclusion of a resource box statement and sometimes a link back to the original work [for online reproduction].

Next: Protecting Images on Websites

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Please note that these articles about Copyright are informational only. Please consult your legal advisor.