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Written by : Gaylord Dollak
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module for copyright duration renewal and termination one of the complexities of copyright law is the fact that the rules vary depending on when the protected work first qualified for copyright protection these differences are the results of the various amendments to copyright laws that have been enacted over time the Copyright Act of 1909 governs works that first qualified for copyright protection between 1909 and 1978 the Copyright Act of 1976 applies to materials that qualified for copyright protection on or after January 1st 1978 with that in mind this module will focus on how long copyrights last when they terminate and how and under what circumstances they can be renewed duration under the Copyright Act of 1909 copyright protection lasted for 28 years from the date when the work was first published or first registered with the Copyright Office the law at that time required that the publication include a copyright notice or it was not deemed to be an effective publication the 28 year term could be renewed with a timely request for an additional 28 year term thus under the Copyright Act of 1909 the maximum time for which a work could receive copyright protection was 56 years under the Copyright Act of 1976 the duration of copyright protection was extended for copyrights already in existence instead of a renewal term of 28 years the 1976 Act allowed a renewal term of 47 years so if a work was in its first term of protection as of January 1st 1978 then at the end of that first term it could be renewed for 47 more years if the work was in its second term or renewal term as of January 1st 1978 the renewal term was extended from 28 years to 47 years thus providing a total copyright life of 75 years the 28 year initial term plus the 47 year renewal term note that the end of the duration of a copyright is the end of the calendar year in which the copyright is due to expire thus for example if the copyright is to expire in 2025 it will remain effective throughout the entire 2025 calendar year expiring at the end of December 31st 2025 to illustrate how this transition provided under the Copyright Act of 1976 functioned consider a painting which first receive copyright protection in 1950 to receive that protection the artist was required to properly publish the work with notice or register the work with the Copyright Office that work was subject to the Copyright Act of 1909 and was in its initial term of copyright protection as of the effective date of the Copyright Act of 1976 which was January 1st 1978 thus if the copyright owner requested renewal during 1978 then the owner would receive a renewal providing copyright protection for an additional 47 years until 2025 if the painting had received copyright protection in 1947 and was renewed in 1975 it still could have had its renewal period extended to 47 years making the copyright valid until 2022 which is 47 years from the beginning of its renewal period in 1975 the Copyright Act of 1976 eliminated the requirement of publication or registration instead copyrights are established when a work is fixed in a tangible medium of expression the copyright term begins immediately upon creation and fixation of the work even without publication or registration for works created on or after January 1st 1978 the copyright term is the lifetime of the author Plus 70 years if more than one author is involved with the work the term runs for the lifetime of the author who lives the longest plus 70 years if the work is a work for hire the term runs for the shorter of 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation if the work is created anonymously or under a pseudonym the term of the copyright is the same as a work for hire or 95 years from the first publication or 120 years from creation however if the identity of the author is known to the Copyright Office then the copyright term will be the lifetime of that person plus 70 years even if it's published under a pseudonym in 1998 Congress enacted the Sonny Bono copyright term extension act this extended the copyright term for all works that were in their renewal periods in 1998 for an additional 20 years for example if a work was originally copyrighted in 1957 and renewed in 1985 its renewal period would have run until 2032 which was 47 years from the renewal date in 1985 under the Act the renewal was automatically extended to 2050 - which is 20 years beyond the original 2030 - renewal term the legislation thus provided additional copyright protection for extremely valuable works including Disney's Mickey Mouse the legislation had the effect of extending the rights associated with most works first protected under the Copyright Act of 1909 as a result many materials first copyrighted early in the 20th century retained their protection well into the 21st century note that for works created on or after January 1st 1978 there is no need to consider the renewal period the Copyright Act of 1976 extended copyright terms and eliminated the need to request renewal periods for those works the copyright term is simply the lifetime of the author Plus 70 years with no option to renew renewal issues today the Copyright Act of 1976 effectively eliminated copyright renewals in the United States for new works and as for work still subject to the Copyright Act of 1909 enough time has now passed so that there are no longer new renewal issues the last of the 1909 Act works received initial copyright protection in 1977 so those initial terms would have expired in 2005 at that time the copyright owners for those works would have been required to decide whether to Reno there are however numerous 1909 Act works which are currently in their renewal terms thanks to the terms of the 1976 Act which provided extended renewals to 47 years and the copyright term extension Act of 1998 which provided an additional 20 years to those terms many works originally protected under the 1909 AG remain under copyright protection today some have expressed concern that the relatively long periods for copyright protection can impede future creativity and innovation by reducing the volume of material accessible in the public domain in the case Eldred vs. Ashcroft the Supreme Court addressed the constitutionality of the long copyright term extensions provided by legislation including the copyright term extension act the court concluded that the legislation extending copyright protection did not violate either the First Amendment or the constitutional provisions addressing copyrights termination expiration of rights due to failure to renew is applicable to works first protected under the Act of 1909 but not to works protected under the Act of 1976 expiration of the copyright period or failure to renew ends copyright protection under the 1909 act expiration or even renewal terminated all grants and rights associated with the work entered into by the copyright owner including assignments and licenses so if a work was protected by the 1909 act and it was assigned to another party during its initial copyright term that assignment was not necessarily valid during the copyright renewal term copyright ter
Thanks for your comment Marlin Cronoble, have a nice day.
- Gaylord Dollak, Staff Member
hey everybody andy nelson here yes this is a cassette tape for those of you who don't know and this is a cassette tape with break dancing music on it which i got uh in about 1984 and probably with an instructional poster and yeah it was terrible and blah blah blah does break dancing music does it have any real commercial value these days i do not know uh everything seems to come in cycles right and i've seen breakdancing come back at least in elements uh in recent years and maybe it'll come back in full force in the future i don't know so one would look at this and say god does that have any value can i can i use this can i sample it can i do all sorts of things with it and what i say is at your own risk copyright doesn't really last only so long as something protected by copyright house commercial value it lasts a long time which kind of allows for things to kind of come in and out of popularity how long does copyright last well tell you what let's first talk about how much copyright might be here we've got a cassette tape which has recorded music so the recording of music protected by copyright the music itself the notation all that copyright lyrics if there are any lyrics to these songs copyright um geez the insert right here artwork protected by copyright so there's a lot of copyright here and maybe this has no real commercial value but it really doesn't matter the copyright holder owns the copyright which means the right to control copies exploit those make derivative works you know adaptations and things like that from it uh for a long time how long we'll tell you what if this was created by if anything in here was created by uh a human you know let's do it that way a single author not employed by somebody else but andy let's say andy creates this the copyright lasts for 70 years after i die okay so the copyright exists as long as i'm alive and then for another 70 years so guess what i get to pass this down in a will um it's quite a long time to exploit the value of a copyright which may go up and down and up and down so it can be pretty dug on valuable right let's say it's not created by me now look these things are all created by humans but i'm saying i'm created i create something i just gave you the duration if it's just me myself and i and i create it but let's say i create it for my employer or i create it for somebody else they hired me to create it uh in that case uh the copyright is not for my life plus 70 years it's a bit different so like let's call it an institutional kind of copyright like let's just say a business or a company for a shortcut not exactly right there's some nuances but you know for for discussion purposes let's call it that if that's the case uh the duration is not life plus 70 years after death what it is is once the work is created uh it's going to be it's sometimes works are created and not actually published they're not you know they're just kind of warehoused for a while um once they are published it's for 95 years after that publication or if uh let's say something's never published okay well the law doesn't favor warehousing something forever so it's going to be 120 years from creation so in that scenario i just talked about kind of the the institutional copyright if you will or you know being creating something for your employer or for your commission to create something for somebody else it's going to be either from the date of creation for 120 years someone gets to exploit it or 95 years after publication whichever one is shorter okay so if i publish something in 30 years after i create it well it's not going to be another 95 years right because that would exceed the 120 years so 120 years is going to be the max and it might actually even be shorter that was a little bit confusing i get but suffice to say it's a long time so let's say this was created in roughly 1984 1984 whoops sorry 1984 all this um we're talking about this being most likely 95 years from then so breakdance comes back in style great and this might be re-released but just because it doesn't have any or probably doesn't have a whole lot of commercial value right now does not mean that i get to go snag it and start using it and duplicating it and selling it myself i'm going to be violating someone's copyright and someone's going to come calling so don't think that copyright duration or the life of copyright is somehow tied to its real commercial value or something like that it is much longer which means hey you're the good guy you're gonna you're creative you're gonna be creating things it can be a long long time anyway hope that helps if you have any comments or questions about this video shoot me a note leave me a comment below or if someone else would find value in this please feel free to share this video thanks a lot until next time bye
Thanks coleopterX your participation is very much appreciated
- Gaylord Dollak
About the author
I've studied biomolecular engineering at Roseman University of Health Sciences in Henderson and I am an expert in algebraic topology. I usually feel lonely. My previous job was college/university professor I held this position for 26 years, I love talking about wax sealing and whittling. Huge fan of Nathan Fillion I practice parallel bars and collect beer cans.
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