Copyright Bite #1.2

Knowing that copyright generally lasts for the lifetime of the author plus 70 years is a useful rule of thumb, although this rule does not apply to all types of copyright work.
Copyright in sound recordings and television broadcasts is not calculated with reference to the life of an author. So, the period of protection granted to broadcasts is simply 50 years from the end of the year of first transmission. Similarly, copyright in sound recordings expires 50 years from the end of the year in which the recording was made, unless the recording is published during that 50 year period in which case the copyright will expire 70 years from the end of the year in which it was published.
Vectorized by Badseed using BlankMap-World6 as a basemap. Original image created by Balfour Smith at Duke University. Moreover, while a work may be in the public domain, the recording of that work may well be in copyright. For example, Mozart’s music is in the public domain and free for everyone to use it, but the recording of his Symphonies 38-41 made by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and released in 2008 are in copyright, and will remain in copyright until 31 December 2078 (that is, 70 years from the end of the year in which they were first published).
It is also important to bear in mind that different rules on the duration of copyright can apply in different countries. So, the fact that a work is out of copyright somewhere else in the world does not mean that it is out of copyright in the UK. For example, the US and the UK have quite different rules on when works enter the public domain. Any work that was first published more than 95 years ago is in the public domain in the US before; but in the UK plenty of work that was first published more than 95 years ago is still in copyright today because the author died less than 70 years ago. Again: different rules about copyright duration often apply in different countries.

More from Bite #1

Copyright Bite #1.1

Copyright does not last forever. In the UK, and across Europe, copyright in books, plays, music, works of art and films comes to an end 70 years after the author’s death.

Copyright Bite #1.3

The man in pink is, of course, the inimitable Sherlock Holmes. Even before Holmes was released from the time capsule, you probably knew it was him.

Copyright Bite #1.4

Having become tired of his famous creation, Conan Doyle decided to kill him off in 1893.

Copyright Bite #1.5

Once an author’s body of work enters the public domain it is free to be re-used by anyone.

Copyright Bite #1.6

When most people discuss copyright in a work coming to an end, they talk about the work falling into the public domain. The metaphor of ‘the fall’ carries a number of – mostly negative – connotations.

More Copyright Bites

Copyright Bite #1

Copyright Bite #1 considers how long copyright lasts and what it means to say that a work is protected by copyright or in the public domain.

Copyright Bite #2

Copyright Bite #2 explores how copyright protects only the expression of ideas and not ideas themselves.

Copyright Bite #3

Copyright Bite #3 considers how you can lawfully make use of, or borrow from, works that are still in copyright, but without having to ask for permission or make payment to the copyright owner.