If you register for a copyright for your original work, you may be wondering how long it will last. Assuming that you registered it after 1978, your copyright will be effective for your lifetime plus 70 years. Eldreth Law Firm is here to help you better understand. Our lawyer in Raleigh NC can help you with all copyright situations.
Do Copyrights Last? | Lawyer Raleigh NC
A copyright gives you protection against appropriation of your original work. It allows you to sue if someone uses your work and tries to claim it as his or her own. It also allows you to reproduce, distribute, display and/or perform your own work in any way that you choose.
You are also able to collect royalties on your work. For instance, if you compose a song and someone uses it in a movie, you will be paid for its use. The song “White Christmas” has reportedly made $36 million on royalties alone. The most popular version of the song was performed by Bing Crosby; however, Irving Berlin wrote it, so as the copyright owner, he received the payments.
The Copyright Act of 1976 displaced all previous laws which included common law and state copyright laws. Its intent was to protect the author of a work under copyright for life plus 50 years. This is when the government determined the current list of works that can be protected under copyright, which include literary works; musical works, including any accompanying words; dramatic works, including any accompanying music; pantomimes and choreographic works, pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works; motion pictures and other audiovisual works; and sound recordings. Architectural works were added in 1990.
Before the Copyright Act of 1976, no changes had been made since 1909. The advancements in technology, including development of television, movies and recorded audio, were cited as a reason for amending the law. The new act addressed these new ways for people to create.
It was also enacted so that the U.S. could participate in the Universal Copyright Convention, which is a universal convention protection of copyright.
The previous copyright law gave an author protection for 28 years with the option of another 28 years, giving someone 56 years of protection. When the new law was enacted, works that were already covered were extended to 47 years, giving the author of the work 75 years of protection. In 1992, the required renewal was made optional. It is no longer necessary to extend the copyright for anything registered before 1978. Anything registered now does not need to be renewed.
The Copyright Act of 1975 included unpublished works. Previously, any work that was not published was not protected under the federal copyright law, but instead was governed by state laws. If a work has no protection it becomes part of “public domain,” which means it is not protected from use by anyone. Any work published before 1923 is now considered public domain.
An example of something now considered public domain are the books by Lewis Carroll. Because there is no copyright protecting the distribution of them, Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland is available to download for free on many e-book websites. Other books that are considered public domain are Moby Dick, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and A Tale of Two Cities.
Eldreth Law Firm PC | Lawyer in Raleigh NC
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