Copyright Bite #1 – Copyright Duration
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. The texts below help you understand whether a work is in or out of copyright.
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.
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.
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.
Having become tired of his famous creation, Conan Doyle decided to kill him off in 1893.
Once an author’s body of work enters the public domain it is free to be re-used by anyone.
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 #2 explores how copyright protects only the expression of ideas and not ideas themselves.
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.
Copyright Bites: Credits and Acknowledgements