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Content, Writing and Copyright Forum

Copyright expiry question?
is there a 50 year cutoff??????

 9:55 am on Jun 7, 2002 (gmt 0)

Apologies if this has been raised somewhere else, and although I'm in the UK I suppose the answer to this may vary depending on where one is based. It's a legal question so any advice given will only be taken as guidance advice only, not gospel :-)

But, a guy I know who does web dev commercially (whereas most of what I do is hobby based) told me that Copyright on say magazine pictures or text expires after 50 years from the publication date, or 50 years after the death of the originating author. Now I've not heard of this before (I did a site search here but didnt turn up anything either) and I was just wondering if anyone had come across this too??

All advice welcomed, and taken as just that, informal advice.

Duke of Url.



 10:04 am on Jun 7, 2002 (gmt 0)

There's an interesting article in a pdf about copyright. [dml.indiana.edu]

Be aware, it's quite a large file.


 1:26 pm on Jun 7, 2002 (gmt 0)

If you really want to dig into the matter, you could have a glance at the site of the World Intellectual Property Organization [wipo.org]. This body coordinates the efforts of all participating countries to harmonize copyright legislation. Search for the "Berne Convention" , which is the foundation for most national copyright laws.

And yes, copyright usually expires 50 years (in some cases 80) after the death of the originator.


 1:34 pm on Jun 7, 2002 (gmt 0)

If you are really interested in the future of copyright then keep your eye on disney. People are afraid of microsoft, mickey is the one changing the public domain.

I am not sure how this applies to non us companies but it may in the future.



 1:38 pm on Jun 7, 2002 (gmt 0)

Thanks all, will have a look through them later on. Looks like its quite a can of worms!



 6:36 pm on Jun 7, 2002 (gmt 0)

An interesting note about copyright.

The Walt Disney Company, around 1980-1985 encountered a legal snafu I'm sure none of them planned on.

The rights the the image of Mickey Mouse became public domain for about two months before they caught on.

How this came about, I'm not too clear on - but I do remember a BURST of non-licensed Mickey material (including some adult stuff) that surfaced during this time. Legally, Disney had no power to stop this and, of course, regained the rights to their property.

The courts, after a flurry of Disney-initiated lawsuits, also went on to pass a new law on copyright. What that law was, I'm not too sure, but I think it has to do with the USAGE of a copyrighted property.

Something along the terms of if you abandon a copyright for long enough, or if you don't protect a copyright once it's created, then you can lose it making the work public domain until it's protected again.

If anyone finds more information on this, I'd be very interested in knowing more about it.

Trademarks and patents are always the best way to go - there are a few nasty loopholes associated with copyrights (especially with the registered mail method that some artists and musicians use).


 6:42 pm on Jun 7, 2002 (gmt 0)

Cut and pasted from a copyright Q&A:

Q. Copyrights only last for 70 years so a work written in 1912 is no longer copyrighted right?

A. NO. A copyright for a work created by an individual is good for 70 years AFTER the author's death.

Q. All this is really complicated, is there an easy way to make sure I don't infringe on someone's copyright?

A. Yes, ask permission from the copyright owner to use the work. First you need to FIND the copyright owner. You can do this by visiting [loc.gov...] This contains works copyrighted after 1 January 1978. You can also check the Catalog of Copyright Entries. This can prove handy in searching for older copyright owners. The CCE was discontinued in 1982 but still available in most libraries. You can order a copyright search from [loc.gov...] by simply downloading the appropriate form and mailing it with the fee.



 5:36 am on Jun 9, 2002 (gmt 0)


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