When Works Pass into the Public Domain
|When Works Pass into the Public Domain|
|Type of Work||Copyright Term||What will become public domain on Jan. 1, 2003|
|Unpublished works||Life of the author + 70 years||Works from authors who died before 1933|
|Unpublished anonymous and pseudonymous works, and works made for hire (corporate authorship)||120 years from date of creation||Works created before 1883|
|Unpublished works created before 1978 that are published before Jan. 1, 2003||Life of the author + 70 years or Dec. 31, 2047, whichever is greater||Nothing. The soonest the publications can enter the public domain is Jan. 1, 2048|
|Unpublished works created before 1978 that are published after Dec. 31, 2002||Life of the author + 70 years||Works of authors who died before 1933|
|Unpublished works when the death date of the author is not known2||120 years from date of creation3||Works created before 18833|
|Time of Publication||Conditions||Public Domain Status|
|Before 1923||None||In public domain|
|Between 1923 and 1978||Published without a copyright notice||In public domain|
|Between 1978 and Mar. 1, 1989||Published without notice and without subsequent registration||In public domain|
|Between 1978 and Mar. 1, 1989||Published without notice but with subsequent registration||70 years after death of author, or if work of corporate authorship, the shorter of 95 years from publication, or 120 years from creation|
|Between 1923 and 1963||Published with notice but copyright was not renewed4||In public domain|
|Between 1923 and 1963||Published with notice and the copyright was renewed5||95 years after publication date|
|Between 1964 and 1978||Published with notice||95 years after publication date|
|After Mar. 1, 1989||None||70 years after death of author, or if work of corporate authorship, the shorter of 95 years from publication, or 120 years from creation|
2These works may still be copyrighted, but certification from the Copyright Office is a complete defense to any action for infringement.
3Presumption as to the author's death required a certified report from the Copyright Office that its records disclose nothing to indicate that the author of the work is living or died less than seventy years before
4A 1961 Copyright Office study found that fewer than 15% of all registered copyrights were renewed. For textual material (including books), the figure was even lower: 7%.
5A good guide to investigating the copyright and renewal status of published is Samuel Demas and Jennie L. Brogdon, "Determining Copyright Status for Preservation and Access: Defining Reasonable Effort," Library Resources and Technical Services," 31:4 (Oct. 1997):323-334.