US—duration of copyright
US—duration of copyright

The following IP guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • US—duration of copyright
  • Post-1978 works
  • Pre-1978 works

Produced by Jeremy S. Goldman, Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz PC

This Practice Note was originally written for Lexis Practice Advisor®, in the US.

This Practice Note examines US copyright law rules dealing with how copyright duration is calculated and whether a work is subject to renewal or extensions. Coverage is split by looking at the duration of copyright in post-1978 works and pre-1978 works.

The US Constitution, which lays the foundation for copyright protection, provides that the monopoly afforded to authors may subsist only for a ‘limited time’. Const., Art 8, Sec 8. Over the years, Congress has passed legislation extending the term of copyright protection, with the latest extension passed pursuant to the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998. Although opponents of the extension challenged the act as unconstitutional, the Supreme Court upheld the law. See: Eldred v Ashcroft, 537 U.S. 186 (2003) (not reported by LexisNexis®).

US copyright law provides a complex series of rules for how copyright duration is to be calculated and whether a work is subject to renewal or extensions.

Post-1978 works