Copyright Term

As a result of the TRIPS minimum, copyright terms are now uniform around the world. Nonetheless the calculation of copyright terms is complex. Typical terms for the EU and U.S. are set out below:

EUROPEAN UNION

Type of Work

Term

Work of a Single Author

Life of the Author + 70 Years

 

Work of Joint Authorship (Multiple Authors)

 

Life of the Longest Lived Author + 70 Years

Pseudonymous work where real identity of the author is known or identifiable

 

Life of the Author + 70 Years

Pseudonymous work where author is genuinely anonymous

 

70 years after first publication

Collective Works—where contributors are not identified in published version

 

70 years after first publication

Joint works vested in a legal person (e.g., a company) where contributors are not identified in published version.

 

70 years after first publication

Segregable elements of a collective work

 

Life of each Author + 70 Years

Work published in episodes, installments, volumes or parts

 

Separate terms in accordance with the above rules, i.e., each installment, volume, or part is treated as distinct work for copyright purposes.

Unpublished works with term not calculated according to life of an author or authors

 

70 years from date of creation

Cinematographic or Audiovisual Works

 

Life of the last living of: (a) principle director; (b) author of the screenplay; (c) author of the dialogue; or (d) author of musical score

Performers’ performances

 

50 years after first performance—except that if it is first performed for the public during this period, 50 years from such public performance

Phonograms, sound recordings

50 years after first recording—except that if it is published during this period, 50 years from such publication

 

Films (producer rights)

50 years after fixing of the film; except that if it is published during this period, 50 years from such publication

 

Broadcasts

 

50 years from first public transmission

Scientific Publications

Member states may protect such works that have entered the public domain for 30 years

 

Computer Generated Works

 

50 years from date of first compilation

All European Terms are calculated from the January 1 date following the event that triggers the start of the term, e.g., if an author dies in June 2006, the copyright term is 70 years from January 1, 2007.

 

 

UNITED STATES

TYPE OF WORK

TERM

Unpublished works—Single Author

 

Life of the Author + 70 Years

Unpublished works—Multiple Authors

 

Life of the Longest Lived Author + 70 Years

Unpublished anonymous and pseudonymous works, and works made for hire (corporate authorship)—except where author is identified to copyright office

 

120 Years from Date of Creation

Unpublished works when the death date of the author is not known

 

120 Years from Date of Creation

Published Works of a Single Author

 

Life of the Author + 70 Years

Published Works of Multiple Authors

 

Life of the Longest Lived Author + 70 Years

Original Designs

 

10 years from publication or first availability to the public

U.S. terms expire on December 31st of the year in which they are calculated to expire, e.g., if an author dies in January 2006, the copyright will expire on December 31st 2076.

 

 

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