Terms of Copyright

28/12/2020 0 By indiafreenotes

Copyright term is the length of time copyright subsists in a work before it passes into the public domain.

The general rule is that copyright lasts for 60 years. In the case of original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works the 60-year period is counted from the year following the death of the author. In the case of cinematograph films, sound recordings, photographs, posthumous publications, anonymous and pseudonymous publications, works of government and works of international organisations, the 60-year period is counted from the date of publication.


Copyright term and the public domain

The extension of copyright term imposes tangible restrictions on the public domain. For instance, scholar Neil Netanel argued that Copyright Term Extension Act 1998 prevented the entering of works central to cultural heritage of the US into the public domain. He argued, culturally important dissemination, recasting, or incorporation into new expression is prevented due “to the copyright holder’s veto”. As examples he gave the adaption of the plot from novels such as The Great Gatsby and Peter Pan, the refashion of characters like Mickey Mouse, or the use of Tin Pan Alley songs like “Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall in Love)” for documentaries about the Great Depression.

Copyright term and orphan works

For the millions of older copyrighted works of less enduring popularity, it is difficult, or impossible, to trace the copyright ownership and determine who holds the particular rights that would have to be licensed for the use of the work. The problem of such orphan works stems from the extension of copyright term and the lack of requirement for the copyright owner to renew or register their copyright. In order to tackle this perceived problem some jurisdictions have revised their copyright laws to allow use of orphaned works, after diligent searches.

Length of copyright

Copyright subsists for a variety of lengths in different jurisdictions. The length of the term can depend on several factors, including the type of work (e.g. musical composition or novel), whether the work has been published or not, and whether the work was created by an individual or a corporation. In most of the world, the default length of copyright is the life of the author plus either 50 or 70 years. In the United States, the term for most existing works is a fixed number of years after the date of creation or publication. In most countries (for example, the United States and the United Kingdom) copyright expires at the end of the calendar year in question.

The length and requirements for copyright duration are subject to change by legislation, and since the early 20th century there have been a number of adjustments made in various countries, which can make determining the copyright duration in a given country difficult. For example, the United States used to require copyrights to be renewed after 28 years to stay in force, and formerly required a copyright notice upon first publication to gain coverage. In Italy and France, there were post-wartime extensions that could increase the term by approximately six years in Italy and up to about 14 in France. Many countries have extended the length of their copyright terms (sometimes retroactively). International treaties, like the Berne Convention, establish minimum terms for copyrights, but these only apply to the signatory countries, and individual countries may grant longer terms than those set out in a treaty.