How Long Does Copyright Protection Last?
How long does a copyright last?
The term of copyright for a particular work depends on several
factors, including whether it has been published, and, if so,
the date of first publication. As a general rule, for works created
after January 1, 1978, copyright protection lasts for the life of
the author plus an additional 70 years. For an anonymous work,
a pseudonymous work, or a work made for hire, the copyright endures
for a term of 95 years from the year of its first publication
or a term of 120 years from the year of its creation, whichever
expires first. For works first published prior to 1978, the term
will vary depending on several factors. To determine the length
of copyright protection for a particular work, consult chapter
3 of the Copyright Act (title 17 of the United States
Code). More information on the term of copyright can be found
in Circular 15a, Duration of Copyright,
Circular 1, Copyright Basics.
Do I have to renew my copyright?
No. Works created on or after January 1, 1978, are not subject
to renewal registration. As to works published or registered prior
to January 1, 1978, renewal registration is optional after 28 years
but does provide certain legal advantages. For information on how
to file a renewal application as well as the legal benefit for doing
so, see Circular 15,
Renewal of Copyright, and Circular 15a,
Duration of Copyright.
Note: The Copyright Office offers introductory answers to frequently asked questions about
copyright, registration, and services of the Office. Links throughout the answers will guide
you to further information on our website or from other sources. For any other questions, please visit
our Contact Us page.