Duration and Renewal

The duration of copyright for a particular work depends on many factors.  One of the main factors is the date of first publication.

Works created on or after January 1, 1978, are not subject to renewal registration.  In general, Copyright in a work created on or after January 1, 1978, subsists for a term consisting of the life of the author and 70 years after the author’s death.  For joint works, prepared by two or more authors who did not work for hire, the copyright endures for a term consisting of the life of the last surviving author and 70 years after such last surviving author’s death.  In the case of an anonymous work, a pseudonymous work, or a work made for hire, the copyright endures 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.

Any copyright which is subsisting on January 1, 1978, shall endure for 28 years from the date it was originally secured.  The owners of such copyright have renewal option.  If such an owner is a corporate body or a living person, in both cases the copyright shall be entitled to a renewal and extension for a further term of 67 years.  If the author is not living, the widow, widower, or children of the author or the author’s next of kin, in the absence of a will of the author, shall be entitled to a renewal and extension of the copyright. The renewal term in such case is also a further term of 67 years.

Although, there are exceptions, generally, an application to register a claim to the renewed and extended term of copyright in a work may be made to the Copyright Office within one year before the expiration of the original term of copyright by any person entitled.  

   U.S. copyright office


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