|This page is awaiting cleanup.|
|This page is part of the Copyright section for CPDL. |
See individual pages for details and conditions.
Copyright persists in musical and literary works for a certain amount of time that will differ markedly depending on when and where the work, or parts thereof, was created or published. This page is not meant to give a complete picture of copyright in every jurisdiction; just a rule of thumb. The information on this page should not be interpreted as representing the law, and should not be used as a substitute for consulting a lawyer versed in Copyright and Intellectual Property law to establish the nature of a particular copyrighted work.
The European Union at present recognises five separate copyrights in musical works with a single composer, music editor, lyricist, and lyricist's editor.
- Composer's copyright, extinguished 70 years after the end of the year in which (s)he died.
- Music editor's copyright (where there has been creative input), again extinguished 70 years after the end of the year in which (s)he died.
- Text author's copyright, also extinguished 70 years after the end of the year in which (s)he died.
- Text editor's copyright (where there has been creative input), also extinguished 70 years after the end of the year in which (s)he died.
- Publisher's typographical copyright, which exists for 25 years from publication.
These categories become slightly complicated if there are multiple composers or lyricists contributing to a single work.
The United States now largely follows the standard of a composer or author's life plus 70 years, or 95 years for works for hire, and recognises the same terms for creative input by editors. However, in the past the US' copyright laws were markedly different.
Note: Some works first published outside the United States have been resurrected from the public domain. As a result of international treaties signed in the 1990s, public domain works that meet certain qualifications are now protected.
|Date Published/Created||Conditions of protection||Term|
|Published in the U.S. before 1924||In public domain†||None|
|Published in the U.S. between 1924 and 1963||Copyright notice required||First term = 28 years; if formally renewed, second term = 67 years.|
|Published in the U.S. between 1964 and 1977||Copyright notice required||First term = 28 years; automatic renewal: second term = 67 years.|
|Created (but not necessarily published) 1978 or after||Copyright notice not required, but work must be fixed in a tangible medium.||Life of composer + 70 years (if single composer).|
† Almost certainly public domain; however there are some unusual exceptions! See, e.g. Cornell University summary for determining what's public domain.
Project Gutenberg (a provider of text-based public domain material in the US) has a long history of defending "Cease and desist" orders, and this web-page gives interesting details of past defenses of their content. This document presents Project Gutenberg's rules for confirming the public domain status of eBooks.