Table of Contents:

 

Is it Protected by Copyright - for works first published in the U.S.A.

Note:

The information on this site applies to use within the U.S.for works outlined in Section 104 of the U.S. Copyright Act. See U.S.C. 104. Copyright terms and use of copyrighted works in another nation are governed by that nation's laws. Works prepared by an officer or employee of the United States Government as part of that person's official duties receive no copyright protection in the U.S.

Overview

This Flash-based tool was created by Michael Brewer and the Office for Information Technology Policy. It provides information on determining the term of copyright protection for works first published in the United States as well as whether or not a particular work is in the Public Domain. While the interactivity of this tool is not available to those using screen readers, such as JAWS, the following text provides all the information provided by this tool. For the fulltext of the U.S. Copyright Code, go to: http://www.copyright.gov/title17/. Please provide any feedback or address any questions on this tool to Michael Brewer, or to Carrie Russell at the Office for Information Technology Policy.

Published Works

Date of Publication

Permission Needed?

Copyright Term/Status

Notes

Before 1923

No

In Public Domain

 

After 1922 & Before 1978 - If published without © notice

No

In Public Domain

Note on copyright notice

After 1922 & Before 1964 - If published w/© notice, but not renewed after 28 years

No

In Public Domain

Note on copyright notice

Note on copyright renewal

 

After 1922 & Before 1964 - If published w/© notice & renewed after 28 years

Maybe

Protected through 2018 or longer (95 years from the date of publication)

Note on copyright notice

Note on copyright renewal

Note on other information

Note on dates of expiration

After 1963 and before 1978 - If published with © notice

Maybe

Protected through 2059 or longer (95 years from the date of publication

Note on copyright notice

Note on copyright renewal

Note on other information

Note on dates of expiration

Published after 1977 and before 2003 - If published with or w/© notice (or without, but registered within 5 years) and created before 1978

Maybe

Protected through 2047 or longer

Note on copyright notice

Note on copyright renewal

Note #1 on author's death

Note on other information

Note on dates of expiration

After 1977 & Before-March 1st, 1989 - If published without © notice & without subsequent registration

No

In Public Domain

Note on copyright notice

Note on copyright renewal

 

After 1977 & Before March 1st, 1989 - If published without © notice, but renewed, or published w/ © notice

Maybe

Protected until 70 years after the death of the author

Note on copyright notice

Note on copyright renewal

Note #2 on author's death

Note on other information

Note on dates of expiration

On or after March 1st, 1989 - Published with or without © notice

Maybe

Protected until 70 years after the death of the author

Note on copyright notice

Note #2 on author's death

Note on other information

Note on dates of expiration

Published after 2002 - When created before 1978 & the author died more than 70 years ago

No

In Public Domain

 

Unpublished Works (date of creation)

 

Permission Needed?

Copyright Term / Status

Notes

Created by Individual or Joint Authors

Maybe [See note]

Protected until 70 years after the death of the author [see note]

Note #3 on author's death

 

Created under Corporate Authorship

Maybe [see note]

Protected until 120 years after the date of creation

Note on Corporate Authorship

Notes:

Copyright Notice

In order to receive copyright protection, works published in the U.S. prior to March 1, 1989 were required to include a coopyright notice. Those without a copyright notice (or without subsequent registration within 5 years of publication) were not protected by copyright. On or after March 1, 1989, no copyright notice was required for a published work to receive copyright protection.

Works published without a copyright notice after 1977 and before March 1st, 1989, could be registered with the copyright office within 5 years and receive full copyright protection. Those that were not registered within 5 years of publication are in the public domain.

Unpublished works have never needed a copyright notice to receive copyright protection. To find out if a work has been registered, start by visiting http://www.copyright.gov/records/

To determine the exact date a work will enter (or has entered) the public domain, see The Copyright Genie

Note on Copyright Renewal

At some points in time, copyrights could be renewed or automatically extended. Works that were not renewed have fallen into the public domain and are not protected by copyright. To learn abou the issues of automatic renewal see Circular 15t http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ15t.pdf. To understand the process of determining whether or not something was ever renewed, see Circular 22 http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ22.pdf and Circular 23 http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ23.pdf

Note #1 on Author's Death

The term for most works in this category is life of the the author (or longest living author) +70. If the date of the author's death plus 70 years is a date before 2047, the longer term is recognized. For works of corporate authorship, anonymous works, pseudonymous works, or works for which the author's death date is unknown, the term is through 2047, unless the lesser of the date of publication +95 and the date of creation +120, is more, in which case that number is the term.

There are also important exceptions to the "Life +70" rule. If the work was a product of a joint authorship, the copyright term is Life +70 for the longest lived author.  For works of corporate authorship, anonymous works, pseudonymous works, or works for which the author's death date is unknown, the term is 120 years from the date of creation or 95 years from the date of publication, whichever is less.

Note #2 on Author's Death

The term for most works in this category is life of the author +70. There are also important exceptions to the "Life +70" rule. If the work was a product of a joint authorship, the copyright term is Life +70 for the longest lived author.  For works of corporate authorship, anonymous works, pseudonymous works, or works for which the author's death date is unknown, the term is 120 years from the date of creation or 95 years from the date of publication, whichever is less.

Note #3 on Author's Death

Most unpublished works by individuals enter the public domain 70 years after the death of the [last living] author. For anonymous works, pseudonymous works, or works for which the author's death date is unknown, the term is 120 years from the date of creation.

Unpublished works that were registered with the Copyright Office (rare) have the same term as if they had been published (using the date of registration in place of the date of publication).

Note on Corporate Authorship

Unpublished works created under corporate authorship enter the public domain 120 years after their creation.

Unpublished works that were registered with the Copyright Office (rare) have the same term as if they had been published (using the date of registration in place of the date of publication).

Note on Dates of Expiration

Works enter the public domain on January 1st of the year following the expiration of their copyright term

Note on Other Information

This work is protected by copyright. However, several copyright exceptions may still allow you to use the work without the author's permission. Possible exceptions include: Fair Use [See Fact Sheet 102 at http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html], Educational exceptions, and Library or archival exceptions, among others [See Circular 21 at http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ21.pdf].

If a copyrighted work is not covered under an exception, you should get permission to use it. For help tracking down copyright owners, see Circular 22 at: http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ22.pdf. These and other resources can be found at the U.S. Copyright Office website at: http://www.copyright.gov/

For further information, also visit the Copyright Advisory Network at: http://www.librarycopyright.net

Creative Commons

This tool is licensed under a Creative Commons Common Deed license - http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/ You are free to copy, distribute and transmit the work under the the conditions set out in the license.

Institutional Use

If you would like to modify this tool (by adding local contact information for copyright queries) and serve it from your institution, or if you have any other questions or comments, please contact Carrie Russell at the OITP Washington Office at: crussell@alawash.org or Michael Brewer at brewerm@u.library.arizona.edu. We will provide you with the digital files and instructions you will need to set the tool up on your own servers.

Disclaimer

This tool is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information with regard to the subject covered. This information is given with the understanding that neither the American Library Association, the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy nor Michael Brewer are engaged in rendering legal, copyright or other professional advice. Since the details of each copyright issue are fact-dependent, consult with your organization's copyright specialist or legal advisor regarding copyright questions.