How Long Does a Copyright Last?

Copyright Protection How Long Does a Copyright Last?

How Long Does Copyright Last?

Whether you’re thinking of copyrighting a song, a book, or any other artwork, you may want to know how long your copyright will last. 

It may also prove useful to learn how copyright works. When does it start and end, and when a work of authorship becomes available for public use?

If you want to learn how to copyright your work and ensure total copyright protection, you should get acquainted with the concept of intellectual property ownership and the laws behind it.


When Does Copyright Start?

The moment you create a tangible creative work, that content is copyrighted. 

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and other U.S. copyright laws provide default protection for any creation from the moment it is put in a tangible form.

Despite this fact, artists often register a copyright with the United States Copyright Office.

The U.S. Copyright Office is a part of the Library of Congress in charge of keeping records of copyright registration and administering laws related to copyright. 

Registering your content with the U.S. Copyright office comes with the price, but also with some benefits:

  • A public record of your ownership over the copyright
  • A right to file a lawsuit for copyright infringement
  • Evidence admissible in court concerning the validity of the copyright if you register within five years of publication
  • The right to seek statutory damages and attorney’s fees in federal court if you register within three months of publishing your content
  • The ability to file the registration with the U.S. Customs and prevent the importation of infringing copies into the country

How Long Does Copyright Protection Last?

Based on the default copyright you get by creating your work, copyright protection will last during your lifetime and 70 years after your death. 

In case you were interested in using someone else’s content, like a classical piece of music published a while ago, there are additional factors to consider. 

Works published before 1978 have different copyright rules. Some may be public domain—free for use—but for most works, the copyright rules depend entirely on the time of publication. 

What Are the Copyright Rules for Pre and Post 1978 Works?

If you are interested in a work published before 1978, you are looking at three different copyright rules depending on the exact publishing time ranging from 1909 to 1978. 

If the content is published between: 

  1. 1909 and 1921—The copyright lasted for 28 years from the date of publication and an additional 28 years if the renewal happened during that last year of copyright protection
  2. 1922 and 1963—The initial term was 28 years from the publication date and an additional 67 years if it was renewed in the last year of the copyright term
  3. 1964 and 1978—The copyright lasted for 28 years and was automatically renewed for an additional 67 years

If the content was created on or after January 1, 1978, the following rules apply:

For a Single Author The content is protected during the lifetime of the author and an additional 70 years
For Multiple Authors The protection lasts during the lifetime of the surviving author and an additional 70 years
For Content Created for Hire The creation has copyright protection within 95 years from the first publication or 120 years from the date of its creation
For Anonymous Authors The protection lasts for 95 years from publication or 120 years from the date of creation

How Often Do Copyrights Have To Be Renewed?

What is great about registering your content with the Copyright Office is that you don’t have to renew it at all. This rule applies to everything published after 1978. 

Content published before that became a public domain if there was no renewal during the last year of its initial copyright term.

How Else Can You Protect Your Work?

No matter what you do to keep your content safe, pirates are always alert. Someone might post a downloadable version of your book online, upload your music to a streaming website, or use your content in a YouTube video.

You do have one powerful tool to deal with content violators—a DMCA notice. 

The document does not have to follow a specific pattern, but there are some parts that every DMCA notice should include:

  • A specific subject line—Include DMCA Notice or Copyright Notice in the subject to make sure your intent is clear to the recipient
  • Your contact info—The recipient has to be able to reach you, so make sure to include your name, phone number, and email address
  • A link to the original content or a copyright certificate if you registered your work—This serves to prove that you are the owner
  • Links to the stolen content—Send links to all websites infringing on your work
  • A statement of good faith—Some companies will request specific phrases, but the point is to state that you believe the content on their website is infringing on your rights as the copyright owner
  • A statement of affirmation under penalty of perjury—You need to confirm that you are the copyright owner and that everything you stated is true
  • An electronic signature—You, as the copyright owner, must sign the statement

Why Is DoNotPay the Best Way To Send a DMCA Notice?

When you decide to go after someone who has stolen your content with a DMCA takedown notice, you don’t go after the person or website. 

You send that notice to the Internet Service Provider (ISP) hosting the website infringing on your content. ISPs are usually huge companies that won’t look twice at a poorly written DMCA notice, even if it has all the right parts. 

This is why our app, which won a Louis M. Brown Award for Legal Access, is the perfect tool to help you create a professional DMCA notice. DoNotPay is the first virtual lawyer in the world and an expert in drafting documents packed with legal terms. 

You should follow these steps to initiate the process:

  1. Open DoNotPay in your web browser
  2. Choose the DMCA Takedown feature
  3. Type in the title of your content and its location
  4. Give us the link to the infringing website
  5. Tap the Sign and Submit option

We will generate the DMCA notice and send it to the ISP in question. You can monitor the progress in the My Disputes tab. 

DoNotPay Helps You Focus on Your Work

When you spend ages polishing your work, you don’t want to get lost in the bureaucratic jungle, trying to keep it from getting stolen. Now you don’t have to because DoNotPay can make sure your work has full DMCA protection

We can create effective copyright infringement notices and will teach you to report copyright infringement. Whether you need to file a copyright claim or a copyright strike on YouTube or add a standard copyright notice to any work you created, our app is here for you.

We can also teach you how to apply the Fair Use policies when using copyrighted content that will allow you to avoid copyright infringement penalties

Our app offers an array of services covering a wide spectrum of potential issues. 

Open DoNotPay in your web browser and find out how we can take over: