How Long Does Copyright Last?


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One of the most commonly asked questions about copyright protection is how long will the copyright last, once registered and issued by the federal government?

The term of copyright for a particular work depends on several things. The two key factors are whether or not it has been published, and, if so, the date of first publication.

As a general rule, for works created after Jan. 1, 1978, copyright protection lasts for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years.

For an anonymous work, a pseudonymous work, or a work made for hire, the copyright lasts for a term of 95 years from the year of its first publication or a term of 120 years from the year of its creation, whichever expires first.

For works first published prior to 1978, the term will vary depending on several factors. To determine the length of copyright protection for a particular work, you or your attorney will need to consult chapter 3 of the Copyright Act (title 17 of the United States Code). More information on the term of copyright is available from the United States Copyright Office, Washington, D. C.

© 2004. All rights reserved. Impact Coaching International™. You may copy or distribute this article free of charge as long as it is kept intact and sent in its entirety including copyright notice and full information about contacting the author, Rosemary Hauschild.

Rosemary Hauschild is a business coach serving creative individuals developing intellectual property. Impact Coaching International™ offers a year-long program showing creative individuals how to protect, promote and profit from their innovative ideas in less time and with more profits. This coaching program is delivered through quarterly workshops, teleconference calls, web casts, fax and email. Individual coaching services are also available. To learn more about how to protect and promote your intellectual property, you are invited to subscribe to the free e-zine, Creations Of The Mind™, by sending an email to with the following phrase in the subject line of your e-mail:
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